Updated: October 20, 2014 8:37:55 am
The BJP stormed to power in Haryana on Sunday, winning the state for the first time alone since it was formed in 1966. The party that had never won more than five seats contesting on its own has a tally of 47 in the 90-member House. Its strength in the outgoing Assembly was four.
The Congress was reduced to 15 seats from 40, with only four of its 13 ministers managing to win. Outgoing Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was among the winners.
An even bigger blow was dealt to the INLD, which ended with 19 seats, thwarting supremo Om Prakash Chautala’s hopes of taking oath as CM from inside Tihar jail. Among the big losers on Sunday was Chautala’s grandson Dushyant, though two other family members won.
The question before the BJP now is who to name the chief minister — a Jat or a non-Jat, from among the over half-a-dozen contenders. The party had not named any CM candidate before the polls.
The front-runners for CM from among the Jats are former national spokesman Abhimanyu and Kisan Morcha chief Om Prakash Dhankar.
The non-Jats whose names are in circulation are former state party in-charge Manohar Lal Khattar, state president Ram Bilas Sharma, Union ministers of state Inderjit Singh and Krishnapal Gujar, and Anil Vij.
While the non-Jats, particularly in urban areas, appear to have voted for the BJP in large numbers, the party may not want to offend the Jats, who make up 21 per cent of the votes, the single-largest chunk, in the state. The BJP had fielded 27 Jat candidates and taken in former Congress veteran Birender Singh to boost its support among the community.
The Congress paid a price in Haryana for anti-incumbency, charges of corruption and dubious land deals, infighting, nepotism and lopsided development. Conceding defeat, Hooda said he hoped the BJP continue the “momentum of growth” of his 10-year regime. “It is democracy. Last time, the people of the state gave us their mandate, and this time to the BJP.”
Insisting “there was no Modi wave”, Hooda added: “Modi did campaign in the state, but this is usual.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed rallies in all the 10 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state.
The INLD’s dismal show is bad news for the Akali Dal supremo and Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal too. He had campaigned in the state for the Chautalas against the wishes of ally BJP. The result is likely to have a bearing on their relations in Punjab.
The BJP had managed to get the support of the Dera Sacha Sauda, and this seems to have worked in its favour.
In a setback to Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, her sister Vandana Sharma lost from Safidon. Vandana was fielded despite the BJP’s stated resolve not to give tickets to relatives of leaders. There had been speculation that Sharma would just keep the seat warm for Swaraj, and that she could be sent to the state as CM after the elections.
Swaraj’s protege Latika Sharma though won from Kalka.
The INLD’s most-hyped candidate, Dushyant, lost from Uchana Kalan, a constituency represented by grandfather Chautala himself in the outgoing Assembly. Dushyant lost to Prem Lata, the wife of BJP leader Birender Singh.
Two other members of the Chautala clan, his son Abhay Singh and daughter-in-law Naina Singh (Dushyant’s mother) won from Ellenabad and Dabwali respectively. Dabwali was represented by Naina’s husband Ajay Chautala, who is in jail along with Chautala in the JBT Teachers Recruitment scam.
INLD state unit chief Ashok Arora, who faced a humiliating defeat in Thanesar, resigned from his post.
India’s richest woman as per the Forbes list, Savitri Jindal of the Congress, lost to BJP candidate Kamal Gupta in Hisar. The Jindals have a vast empire in Hisar and about 10,000 workers on their rolls in factories, institutes and ancillaries.
Haryana Janhit Congress chief Kuldeep Bishnoi, who snapped ties with the BJP before the polls after his demand for an equal share in tickets and a promise of chief ministership was rejected, ended up with only two seats. Apart from Bishnoi himself in Adampur, his wife Renuka (Hansi) was the only other HJC winner.
Bishnoi’s other relatives in the race, elder brother Chander Mohan (Nalwa) and cousin Dura Ram (Fatehabad), lost.
Bishnoi had tied up with the Jan Chetna Party (JCP) of Venod Sharma after parting ways with the BJP. But Sharma did not even open his account. Sharma and his wife who were contesting from Ambala and Kalka respectively both lost.
Another person to face wipeout was former minister of state for home Gopal Goyal Kanda, the accused in the Geetika Sharma suicide case who had formed his own party. He lost from Sirsa to the INLD candidate. Most of Kanda’s candidates lost their deposits.
Of the BJP’s CM contenders, Abhimanyu was elected from Narnaund, a stronghold of Chautala, after a tough fight, while Dhankar won from Badli, where Hooda, himself a Jat, holds sway. Though Dhankar is seen as close to Modi, he was the only Haryana BJP candidate to lose in the Lok Sabha elections. While Abhimanyu has considerable support for the top job, the fact that he had lost all his previous electoral contests before this may weigh against him.
Khattar belongs to the Punjabi community. He makes a debut in the Assembly with a huge victory from Karnal. Ram Bilas Sharma, a Brahmin, also won handsomely, from Mahendragarh. Inderjit Singh, an Ahir, is an MP from Gurgaon, while Gujar, a former state BJP president, is a member of the Lok Sabha from Faridabad.
Sharma and Khattar are both strongly rooted in the RSS, a fact that could work to their advantage. Khattar was the only candidate known to have RSS support and recommendation, and is also considered close to Modi. However, he is a first-time MLA with no experience in administration. He also has no public profile.
The outspoken Vij, who won from Ambala Cantt, was the first to recommend breaking ties with the HJC.
Dhankar and Abhimanyu have both worked in the central BJP organisation for many years. Inderjit, however, is a new entrant from the Congress.
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