What worked for BJP: Modi factor, Balakot strike, Jat, non-Jat vote split

Varinder Bhatia
The verdict on Thursday showed how tall Jat leaders bit the dust in the hardcore Jat belts of the state. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

Modi factor, Balakot air strikes and the Jat, non-Jat polarization of votes played vital role in the Bharatiya Janata Party s landslide victory in Haryana.

The verdict on Thursday showed how tall Jat leaders bit the dust in the hardcore Jat belts of the state. The biggest losers being former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Sonipat, his son and sitting MP Deepender Hooda in Rohtak, and Dushyant Chautala, also a sitting MP, in Hisar.

Rohtak and Sonipat were the epicentre of February 2016 violence that engulfed Haryana during Jat reservation agitation. At least 30 people died – mostly non-Jats who were allegedly lynched by the agitated mob allegedly comprising Jats. Several areas where Jats went on a rampage and torched houses belonging to non-Jat communities in Rohtak and Sonipat were up in arms against Jat leaders.

Jats comprise a total of 27 per cent vote share in Haryana. In Rohtak, Congress relied on both Jat leaders – Bhupinder and Deepender. However, BJP renominated incumbent Sonipat MP Ramesh Chander Kaushik against Bhupinder and brought in another non-Jat candidate, Arvind Sharma, against Deepender in Rohtak. Both non-Jat candidates won.

While the victory margin in Sonipat was over 1.6 lakh votes, Deepender lost by a thin margin of nearly 3,000 votes. In Sonipat, BJP rebel Rajkumar Saini who floated his own political party Loktanter Suraksha Party, had fielded Raj Bala Saini to woo non-Jat vote bank. She got more than 34,000 votes (3.11 per cent of total valid votes). Jat votes, on the other hand, got split as JJP s Digvijay Chautala got over 50,000 votes (4.53 per cent) and INLD s Surender Chhikara too got nearly 10,000 votes (0.81 per cent).

In Rohtak too, Bahujan Samaj Party got over 38,000 votes (3.15 per cent of total votes polled) affecting the non-Jat vote bank. Two more Jat candidates, Pradeep Deswal of JJP and Dharamvir of INLD, too, got more than 28,000 votes splitting the Jat vote bank in the constituency.

In Hisar, while BJP relied upon Jat candidate Brijendra Singh against JJP s Dushyant Chautala, the party also remained confident that Modi factor will play a vital role there. Also, in 2014 Lok Sabha Polls, when Dushyant won from Hisar, he was with the Indian National Lok Dal. His father Ajay Chautala and grandfather and INLD patron Om Prakash Chautala were convicted on charges of conviction in JBT teachers recruitment scam and the party encashed the sympathy factor. It was not same this time. The INLD had witnessed a vertical split after an ugly feud in Chautala clan.

Led by Dushyant, Ajay Chautala had announced a separate political party in December last year and named it Jannayak Janta Party (JJP). The newly formed party also entered into an alliance with Aam Aadmi Party, which as such has no base in Haryana. BJP was confident that the split within INLD will also affect Dushyant s chances in the constituency. Also, Bhajan Lal s grandson and Kuldeep Bishnoi s son Bhavya Bishnoi was making his debut from Hisar. He too acted as a spoiler, getting more than 15 per cent of total votes polled.

BJP, on the other hand was going strong since December last year when it swept mayoral polls in Haryana, followed by another major victory in Jind bypoll in January this year. Modi factor was as such playing out in a big way in the fields of Haryana as the state sends a large population of its youth to the armed forces. The ripples of Pulwama attack was also being felt across Haryana s villages.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar belongs to non-Jat community and BJP managed to consolidate the non-Jat voters. Although Khattar said, people from all communities including Jats voted for BJP, Bhupinder Hooda attributed his and his party s defeat to Tsunami like Modi-wave . BJP focussed its campaign on Modi, Balakot air strikes and played pisive politics. They made people forget the core issues. Yet, we respect people s verdict , Bhupinder Hooda told The Indian Express.