Multi-cornered contests can make Haryana anybody's game (Election Special)
Most elections in Haryana have generally been straight contests between the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). But the 2014 Lok Sabha election is going to be different.
Smaller players like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) have made contests interesting or three-cornered only on some seats.
While all these big and relatively smaller players are in the fray, the entry of the Aam Aadmi party (AAP), which has fielded candidates on all 10 Lok Sabha seats, will definitely make the electoral spectrum much bigger this time with multi-cornered contests.
One difference this time is that while the Congress and the INLD would like to have straight contests, the alliance between the BJP and the HJC has propped them up as a third political force.
Given their individual strengths in different areas of Haryana, the alliance can give a tough fight to the Congress and the INLD on a number of seats. The BSP too is no pushover, even though the party has not got into winning ways in Haryana so far.
But a major difference this time for all these parties will be dependent on how the AAP fares in the elections.
After its good showing in the assembly polls in Delhi in December last year, the AAP leadership, led by its founders Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, has set its focus on Haryana for the party's next big thing outside Delhi. While Kejriwal was born in Haryana and his family has ties in the state, Yadav is the AAP candidate for the Gurgaon seat, adjoining Delhi.
Though no one is expecting AAP to do miracles in the Lok Sabha elections, the party is definitely going to cut into votes of other parties. It is hoping to get votes from youth, educated class and middle class. The AAP leadership is not looking at the April 10 Lok Sabha polls alone.
Haryana's 90 assembly seats go for elections in October this year and AAP has that in mind too.
The ruling Congress in Haryana, which has been led by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda since March 2005, faces a tough test in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. Hooda and the Congress are facing desertions as well as detractors.
For the Congress, repeating its performance of winning nine out of 10 Lok Sabha seats, which it did in the 2009 general elections, is not going to be likely. The land scams and other controversies surrounding the Hooda government are not likely to help the party's image either.
In the given scenario, the Congress can only hope for others to commit political mistakes so that it is able to salvage some pride.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 14-03-2014)