BJP's Course Correction In Haryana: OBC Leader Nayab Saini Replaces Khattar As State CM

BJP's Course Correction In Haryana: OBC Leader Nayab Saini Replaces Khattar As State CM

Neelu Vyas Rajesh MoudgilUpdated: Wednesday, March 13, 2024, 01:26 PM IST
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Haryana: In a major political development, just a few weeks ahead of the general elections, Haryana BJP president and OBC leader Nayab Saini has replaced Manohar Lal Khattar as chief minister.

In what is seen as a surgical operation, not only has the CM been replaced but the BJP’s four-and-a-half year alliance with Dushyant Chautala's Jannayak Janta Party also stands severed. The party has decided to go with independent MLAs instead.

According to political analysts, sensing the growing discontent of the farmers, wrestlers, youths and even a spiralling anti-incumbency against Chief Minister Khatter, PM Modi and Amit Shah are on course correction.

In Saini, the BJP has found someone who could help the party cosy up to the nearly 44 percent OBC population. Two months ago, Congress's Ashok Tanwar, a Dalit leader, had joined the BJP who is tasked to wean away the 20 percent Dalit vote. The OBCDalit combination might help the BJP tide over any imminent backlash from the dominant Jat community, which holds sway on 40 out of 90 assembly seats, following snapping of ties with the JJP.

Many believe that this dissolutionof the BJP-JJP ties is part of a pre-decided script written by Chautala, Modi and Shah, sensing the shifting political sands in the Jatland of Haryana. The split was imminent as the JJP had reportedly sought two of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state, something that was not acceptable to the BJP.

At the heart of the matter is the Jat community, which forms 27 percent of the state's population; the politically volatile districts of Hisar, Bhiwani, Mahendragarh, Rohtak, Jhajar, Sonipat, Sirsa, Jind and Kaithal are the bedrock of this Jat belt.

The BJP decision to split from the JJP leaves the former rudderless; now, it has to not only fend for itself but also has to vie with the Congress for a share of the electoral pie.

No wonder Congress leaders are fuming since the announcement of the break up. In fact, Deependra Hooda, in his December 23 speech in Hisar, had forewarned that the BJP and the JJP will part ways, so that the Jat votes of the Congress can be breached.

However, sources said, while the BJP might have succeeded in pitting the Jats against the non Jats, but an assurance of a full throttle victory still seems to be a far cry, as the sentiments on the ground play out against the saffron dispensation.

Modi showered heaps of praise and gave enough indication of his proximity to blue eyed boy Manohar Lal Khatter a day before his resignation during the inauguration of the Dwarka Expressway, indirectly assuring him of political rehabilitation.

There are reports that Khatter might be asked to contest the Lok Sabha polls from his constituency of Karnal but there is no finality on that as of now.

For the BJP, the change of chief ministerial face might look like a short term masterstroke, but Khatter's exit and Saini's new innings might lead to administrative and bureaucratic anarchy as the BJP is no less a divided house in Haryana; and with the changing political equations the complexity is bound to enhance further.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won all the 10 parliamentary seats in the state. But it remains a challenge for the party to repeat its performance. A lot will depend on how Congress distributes its tickets and picks its candidates. One has to keep in mind that Bhupinder Singh Hooda is already under the ED scanner; so with a sword hanging overhead, can he give his 100 percent to the Congress victory -- that remains to be seen.

The biggest hope for the Congress is Brijendra Singh who has quit the BJP and joined the former. For now, the BJP has countered the Congress in Haryana, put its own house a bit in order, but how long will this order sustain within the BJP; and, moreover, how will the people of Haryana respond to this policy of political expediency?

OUR CORRESPONDENT ADDS

Meanwhile, at least four of the total 10 JJP MLAs have skipped an emergency meeting called by the JJP leaders and it was said that they might join the BJP. However, the JJP state president Nishan Singh, who ducked a volley of questions in the context, said that the party leadership would interact with the media on Wednesday. (The BJP has its own 41 MLAs in the 90-member House, besides the support of six of the total seven independents and that of the sole member of Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP). The JJP has 10 MLAs, the principal opposition party Congress has 30 legislators and there is also one MLA of Indian National Lok Dal.)

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