ENARADA,New Delhi, October 21, 2014
The outcome of the Maharasthra and Haryana Assembly elections which saw the BJP emerging as the top party shows that the hopes raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to be a vote getter while the anti-incumbency factor against the Congress in these two States was also a cause of defeat for the century old party which had come to be synonymous with corruption.
However, though BJP got a clear majority to form the government in Haryana, the party not getting a clear majority in Maharasthra has now left government formation in suspense till after Diwali.
Though credit for the BJP victory in these two States can be given to Modi and his close aide and now party President Amit Shah, but, the result also raises several questions such as whether the BJP would be able to fulfil the aspirations of the electorate and specially the first time voters.
It may be early days to draw any conclusions in Haryana, yet, the party opting for 60 year old Manohar Lal Khattar as Chief Minister clearly shows the tough attitude of Modi since Khattar who had been an RSS pracharak for 40 years joined the BJP two decades ago and is reportedly close to Modi.
Being a non-Jat, Khattar would have to do a balancing act since the Jats have always been the dominant community in Haryana and coming from the Punjabi community, he has a tough task on hand.
Besides, there are veteran BJP leaders in Haryana like 63 year old Ram Bilas Sharma who been five time MLA and a three-time Minister and also state unit President of the party.
Another strong contender for the post was Krishan Pal Gujjar, 57, and is currently member of the Lok Sabha having won from Faridabad with the highest ever margin of over 4.6 lakh votes.
So, Khattar would indeed have to do a lot of tight rope walking despite the BJP having got a clear majority but, the advantage for the saffron party is the tremendous infighting in the Congress which after ruling the state for ten years under the leadership of Bhupinder Singh Hooda was pushed to third place bagging just 15 seats and the vote share shrinking from 44.4 per cent in 2009 to 16.7 per cent reflecting the strong anti-incumbency factor.
Similarly in Maharasthra too, the Congress was pushed to third place down from 82 in 2009 to 42 and the knives are now out for former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan with the former Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde firing a strong salvo saying “he (Chavan) worked to build his own individual interest in the last four years. He did little to build the party’s image in the state.”
So also in Haryana, senior Congress leaders Kumari Selja and Captain Ajay Yadav placed the blame on Hooda. “Hooda is squarely responsible for the defeat,” said Selja.
Yadav said the two main reasons for the defeat of Congress were “one is the anti-incumbency and the other is development works were confined to three districts Sonepat, Rohtak and Jhajjar. That is why out of the 15 Congress winners, 10 are from these three districts. And they have won because of their personal clout. The Hooda government was a one-man cabinet. He used to take decisions and then impose it on the Cabinet. He was self-centred.”
Surely, these are only the beginning of the rumblings and surprisingly there is hardly any voice raised against the Congress central leadership though party President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has called for introspection.
The win in Haryana for the BJP and specially the party getting a clear majority on its own is indeed a remarkable achievement considering it is for the first time since 1966 when the state was carved out that the BJP contested on all seats and emerged as the single largest party, leave alone one with a simple majority.
What clearly has been seen in Haryana is the disenchantment with the old way of politics since prominent figures like Dushyant Chautala and Savitri Jindal were beaten and also that people did not get taken in by the emotional appeal of former Chief Minister and INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala, and his incarceration failed to evoke sympathy which normally happens in elections.
Another factor attributed to BJP’s win was the appeals of dera (establishments of self-styled spiritual leaders) heads like Sachha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of Sirsa which swung votes in BJP’s favour.
Corruption and infighting in the Congress despite populist measures taken by Chief Minister Hooda – reservation for Jats, more pension for war widows, handsome monetary prizes for sportspersons, separation of Haryana Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee from Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee, failed to check the Congress debacle
In Maharasthra too Modi’s appeal to youth and employment opportunities and better economic conditions seem to be influenced the voters though the angst of the people against the 15 year rule of Congress-NCP was even greater. The plethora of scams including Adarsh Housing scam, irrigation scam and allegations linking the Pawar family to the Lavasa project had embittered the people. Worse was the unbridled spate of farmer suicides caused due to crop failure and inability to pay back loans.