M A I N   N E W S

Campaigning over, it’s dash to finish line in Haryana
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The D-day for the Haryana Vidhan Sabha elections is fast approaching. With the Jat-dominated state registering its verdict on October 15, political parties made a final dash to woo voters today — the last day of campaigning.

Haryana has surprised political observers with its results in the past. While all major parties have run intense campaigns, they also know for a fact that state voters cannot be taken for granted.

The state seems to be headed to a completely different direction this time, away from the verdict it gave during the parliamentary elections in April. Among the 10 Lok Sabha constituencies, Haryana elected seven BJP, two Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and one Congress representatives. But things have changed since then. The “Modi wave” that swept the state is on the wane.

Each time BJP leaders came to Haryana and criticised Jat leaders, whether from the INLD or the Congress, it lost support among the predominant community, which is bound to be reflected in the Assembly elections.

As against the BJP’s heavyweights, the Congress and the INLD have banked on Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, respectively, to lead their charge in this electoral battle.

The Congress has kept its central leaders’ role in the campaigning minimal, given the parliamentary election debacle. Both parties, which maintained a lead only in 16 and 17 Assembly segments in the April elections, may be headed for major gains across the state, recovering ground lost to the BJP.

The BJP’s alliance partner in neighbouring Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), is opposing it in Haryana, where the Akalis are in alliance with the INLD. The cross-connection may or may not help the INLD, but it will certainly harm the BJP.

Once allies in the NDA, the INLD and the BJP have turned bitter enemies, with the saffron leadership calling the INLD a party of “goondas and thugs”.

“Yeh loot-te bhi hain aur peet-te bhi” (they rob as well as beat up people), is how BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have described INLD leaders. The INLD has made it clear that it will not have a post-poll alliance with the BJP. Modi has reacted by saying: “The BJP will have nothing to do with the INLD even after October 19, when the results are out.” Amid this war of words, the Congress has silently gained ground, as it has a following both within Jats and non-Jats.

The talk of a possible post-poll alliance between the INLD and Kuldeep Bishnoi-led Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), too, has altered political equations days ahead of polling. INLD leader Dushyant Chautala has called these mere rumours spread by Bishnoi to benefit from the Jat vote.

Jats in Haryana are opposed to Bishnoi, and could move away from the INLD if it is seen allying with the HJC and shift to the Congress. Hooda, a Jat, could get a boost from this to strengthen his “Teesri baar, Hooda sarkar” slogan. The outcome of all this gain and loss for various parties is that the state may be headed for a fractured mandate. There are likely to be very few Independent candidates or those from smaller parties. The results on October 19 will reveal all.

HSGMC supports Cong

Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee on Monday said the Sikhs in the state would vote for the Congress in the elections. Joga Singh, HSGMC general secretary, said the decision had been taken as the Congress had fulfilled the demand for a separate committee for Haryana Sikhs.





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