Committed workers on the ground and the selection of candidates keeping in view caste equations appeared to have helped the BJP most in sweeping the Haryana civic polls, even against their own expectations.
In the run-up to the elections, BJP leaders were unsure of their prospects and refrained from making claims about the expected result. Off the record, many expressed nervousness at the outcome, especially after the drubbing in the Assembly election results in three Hindi heartland states.
But belying those fears, the ruling party came out in winning colours. BJP Insiders are now saying they did well to keep caste equations at the top of their priorities while finalising candidates. By selecting candidates from communities different from the area MLA, they party ensured the mobilisation of more than one community in its support.
Though independent candidates standing in opposition to the BJP candidates were backed by Congress, which did not contest the civic body polls on symbol, and INLD, they lacked dedicated team of poll workers on voting day. Also, the Punjabi community stood behind fellow Punjabi Khattar in this poll like Jats once used to back former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.
“It was only Chief Minister who campaigned in the civic body polls in all important towns during while opposition leaders appeared just holding press conferences. After recent debacle in three states, BJP took the poll very seriously by activating its all workers for the polls. Khattar’s active participation in the poll helped mobilising the Punjabis behind him,” said Hisar based political commentator Rishi Saini.
In Rohtak, ex chief minister Bhupender Singh Hooda’s Stronghold, INLD broke into his jat support base by fielding a Jat candidate Sanchit Nandal. Hooda on the other hand was trying to shore up Jay support for Sita Ram Sachdeva, a Punjabi community member, in Rohtak mayor polls, who lost to the BJP’s candidate.
The main consolation for Congress is that it did not contest on its symbol, though this may have also acted against it.
Local Congress leaders say that BJP’s decision to contest poll for Mayor as well Councillors on party symbol yielded positive results. “Because of this situation, the BJP voters were comfortable in casting their votes to the candidates of Mayor and ward councillor. However, this was not the case in opposition as no minstream opposition party contested the ward councillors election on poll symbol,” says Yashpal Panwar, a Congress worker in Rohtak.
However, Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Om Prakash Dhankar, who actively campaigned for these polls, claimed that it was good governance which has attracted the voters most. “Voters have supported developmental works carried by the BJP government in urban areas,” says Dhankar.
Echoing similar sentiments, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said the people have voted in favour of the BJP, “which believed in work and transparency to serve the people”.