Naveen S Garewal
Haryana has been one of the most happening states in the country. It is for the first time in the history of the state that the BJP managed to form a government on its own. In the past, the BJP was part of the coalition government with other partners. The writing was on the wall ever since the national parliamentary elections where the BJP won seven out of the eight seats it contested. Its alliance partner Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) lost both seats it contested, leading to a breakup in the alliance and making the BJP go it alone in the October Vidhan Sabha elections.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who remained the Chief Minister for two successive terms since 2005, managed to retain the Rohtak Parliamentary seat for the Congress where his son Deepinder Hooda won but most of his other generals either defected to the BJP or contested on the Congress ticket and lost. In the state assembly elections, the Congress was relegated to the third slot losing out even on the claim for Leader of the Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha. Once bitter critic of Hooda, Kiran Chaudhary was elected leader of the Congress legislative party.
Till the May 2014 General Election, the BJP had an understanding with Kuldeep Bishnoi's HJC that the two parties will contest the polls together and share power in a defined manner. But once HJC lost both Parliamentary seats BJP forced Bishnoi to scrap the alliance and look for other partners. Emboldened by the tremendous response in the Parliamentary elections, the BJP high command was persuaded by the state leadership to contest the Vidhan Sabha elections alone. The Modi wave did the trick and the BJP won 47 out of the 90 assembly seats, putting it in the saddle. At some time when the BJP strategy for state elections was being planned, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided that Manohar Lal Khattar would run the government. Khattar was picked up and fielded from Karnal, considered a safe seat.
Khattar emerged the dark horse. He is the first Punjabi Chief Minister of Haryana and a former RSS parcharak and BJP’s general secretary (organisation). He had worked with Modi from 1996 to 2001.
Both Modi and Khattar are ardent supporters of the khaps that have a considerable influence in the Haryana's agrarian society. In a quid pro quo gesture, khaps that were beginning to flex their political muscle became sympathetic towards the BJP and have, so far, not caused much trouble for Khattar's government. The khaps have softened their stand on many issues this year like giving out a code of conduct on marriages and other issues that are more liberal in nature.
The passing year saw a huge polarisation among the Sikhs of Haryana who got a separate gurdwara management body as a pre-election act of the Congress. However, the act of Hooda to form the Haryana Gurdwara Management Committee did not help the Congress turn this appreciation into votes. Before the state calmed down after the poll, the state was shaken by the Gohana bank heist where hundreds of lockers were broken into by digging a tunnel. As if this crime was not enough, the controversy over Dera Satlok Ashram hit headlines brining the functioning of the Khattar Government under question. Besides Godman Rampal, the chief of Sirsa-based dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was also in the news for turning a pop star and later acting in a film to be released on the silver screen. His action of asking his supporters to openly vote for the BJP came under severe criticism.
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