BJP now wants to rule Haryana (News Analysis)
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haryana had always played second fiddle to regional players in the state. But with its latest triumph in the recent Lok Sabha elections, it has set its eyes on going it alone in the state assembly polls late this year and win it too.
Having won seven of the state's 10 Lok Sabha seats in the Lok Sabha polls, much of which has to be credited to the Narendra Modi wave, an upbeat BJP is in no mood to hang on to the crutches of other parties. Having led in over 60 out of the state's 90 assembly seats, the BJP leadership is feeling confident that the party, for the first time, can form the government on its own in the state.
The BJP has an alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) and both the parties had contested the Lok Sabha polls together. While the BJP won seven of the eight seats it contested, HJC lost in both seats that it contested. What was worse for the HJC was that its president, Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former chief minister Bhajan Lal, lost the Hisar seat he represented in the outgoing Lok Sabha.
Two seats were won by the opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) while the ruling Congress, which had won nine Lok Sabha seats in the 2009 general elections, managed to win only the Rohtak seat, the pocket borough of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
The outcome of the election saw Haryana BJP leaders like Anil Vij demanding that the party dump its alliance with the HJC and go it alone in the assembly polls. The HJC leadership reacted sharply, forcing some BJP leaders to go into a fire-fighting mode.
It is however becoming increasingly likely that the BJP will part ways with the HJC and contest alone.
At least four union ministers - Sushma Swaraj, Rao Inderjit Singh, Gen. V.K. Singh and Krishan Pal Gujjar - are from Haryana. The last three have been actively involved in strengthening the BJP at the grassroots level in recent weeks.
The BJP faces one problem though. It does not have a strong enough leadership in Haryana to carry the party through in the assembly polls. The party will have to depend on its national stature, its government at the centre and, most importantly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to win single-handedly. It will also have to find a strong leader from the state to project as the next chief minister.
In 2012, when the BJP-HJC alliance was formed, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari had publicly announced that the alliance will contest the assembly polls and that Kuldeep Bishnoi would be the next chief minister. In the changed circumstances after the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP national leadership has preferred to stay away from the issue.
In the past, the BJP has had an alliance with the INLD and both the parties governed the state. However, they parted ways after the Congress convincingly won the 2005 assembly polls. Even though the INLD would like an alliance, the BJP wants no truck with the party.
Hooda, who assumed office in March 2005 and again scraped through in the October 2009 assembly polls after roping in independents and HJC defectors, faces a tough test as the BJP and INLD would give the Congress party a tough fight. It will not be out of place to say that the assembly polls could end up to be a straight fight between two national parties - the BJP and the Congress.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 26-06-2014)