Days after being drubbed in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh by the Congress, BJP found a morale booster in Haryana municipal elections, where its candidates secured a landslide victory in all the five cities where polls were held. BJP candidates swept the mayoral elections in Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s hometown of Karnal, Panipat, Yamunanagar and the Jat-dominated areas of Rohtak and Hisar by a handsome margin, indicating that there is no major discontentment with the saffron party in the state, which goes to parliamentary and assembly elections next year.
In Karnal, Independent candidate Asha Wadhwa, who had the backing of the INLD, BSP and the Congress, lost to BJP’s Renu Bala by a margin of 9,348 votes. CM Khattar had campaigned extensively for party nominees in these polls, which for the first time saw direct mayoral elections. Karnal, a constituency dominated by the Punjabi community, has been a BJP stronghold, with both the parliamentary and assembly seat being occupied by the BJP.
The assembly constituency of Panipat falls under Karnal parliamentary constituency and here too BJP candidate Avneet thumped Congress-backed Independent candidate Anshu Pahwa by 74,940 votes — the biggest margin among the five corporations. In the last Assembly elections, sitting BJP MLA Rohita Rewri had defeated Congress’ Virender Kumar Shah by over 50,000 votes.
In Yamunanagar, which has the second highest number of Muslims in Haryana after Nuh district, BJP candidate Madan Singh won the mayoral seat by defeating Rakesh Kumar a margin of 40,000 votes.
BJP also registered a victory in the Jat-dominated regions of Hisar and Rohtak — a significant achievement considering that the Hisar MP is INLD strongman and OP Chautala’s grandson Dushyant, and Rohtak is represented by Congress’ Deepender Singh Hooda.
In Hisar, BJP’ Gautam Sardana won the seat by drubbing Congress-backed candidate Rekha by a margin of 28,000 votes. Rohtak too went to the BJP, where its candidate Man Mohan defeated Sita Ram by a margin of 14,000 votes.
The results also show that the much of the resentment of the Jat community against the BJP over quota has ebbed. Within a month of the 2016 violence, the Khattar government had come up with a legislation that provided 10 per cent quota to Jats and five other castes — Jat Sikh, Ror, Bishnoi, Tyagi and Mulla Jat/Muslim Jat — by constituting a new classification, Block ‘C’, in the Backward Classes category.
However, the issue is presently pending before the Supreme Court. Jats, who constitute nearly 29 per cent of Haryana’s population, had voted en masse for the BJP in the 2014 assembly polls, where the saffron party won 47 of the 90 seats, as well as was instrumental in BJP winning 7 out of 10 Lok Sabha seats earlier that year.