A preliminary analysis by the Congress on the reasons for its disastrous performance in Haryana points out that the reservation given to the dominant Jat community resulted in alienation of non-Jats and their consolidation behind the BJP. It has also concluded that the support extended by the Dera Sacha Sauda to the BJP dented its Dalit vote base.
While the Congress did not play up the UPA government’s Lok Sabha election-eve decision to include the Jat community in the OBC list in the campaign, party leaders felt it added to the resentment among the non-Jats against the Congress government headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Even the Jats did not rally behind the Congress as the whirlwind campaign by Om Prakash Chautala resulted in split in their votes.
Adding to the alienation among the non-Jats was the influential Dera’s support to the BJP. Congress leaders said Dera’s support to the BJP weaned away its Dalit support base in areas like Sirsa. The Dalit faces of the Congress — be it Kumari Selja or state Congress president Ashok Tanwar — were at loggerheads with Hooda. Among the 15 Congress candidates who won, only six are non-Jats. Among them, four are from the scheduled caste.
While the anti-incumbency factor was very much there, the Congress leadership believes the constant claim by a section of the Congress leaders about regional disparity was stuck in the minds of the electorate. “When our leaders and the opposition say the same thing, the people will believe it to be a fact,” a senior Congress leader said.
Sources said Congress president Sonia Gandhi met Tanwar and AICC general secretary in charge of Haryana Shakeel Ahmad Tuesday. The party has been pushed to the third spot in Haryana in one of its worst performances in decades.