Rejig In Haryana BJP Team – Party’s Fresh Non-Jat Card

Rejig In Haryana BJP Team – Party’s Fresh Non-Jat Card

Notably, the saffron party hogged limelight when the Khattar-led BJP steered to power in Haryana in 2014 - the first time in about two decades.

Rajesh MoudgilUpdated: Sunday, March 17, 2024, 08:14 PM IST
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Rejig In Haryana BJP Team – Party’s Fresh Non-Jat Card |

Chandigarh: The recent changes in the Haryana BJP team appear to be by design - its move to leverage the non-Jat castes to its advantage - rather than its desperation to beat the anti-incumbency of the chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s 10-year old rule in the state.

For record, on March 12 last - the day when Khattar, 69, was replaced by the OBC leader and party state chief Nayab Saini, 54, as chief minister - the BJP also dumped its four-and-half year old partner, deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) and instead decided to go with independent MLAs, making amply clear its tilt for the non-Jat vote bank.

Dushyant, a Jat leader, represents JJP, a splinter group of veteran Jat leader Om Prakash Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), who is also his grandfather.

Notably, the saffron party hogged limelight when the Khattar-led BJP steered to power in Haryana in 2014 - the first time in about two decades; though the party then rode the Modi wave, and won seven of the state’s 10 Lok Sabha seats with 35% vote share and – a few months later – 47 of the total 90 assembly seats, with 33% vote share.

In 2019 polls, the BJP won all the 10 seats with a 58% vote share but 40 seats (excluding one won later in by-election) – with 36% vote share. However, since it was short of six short of the majority, it needed support of JJP which had 10 MLAs - and six independents.

Even though, Khattar team has had a couple of senior Jat leaders in its fold including O P Dhankar, Capt Ambhimanyu and Subhash Barala since 2014, and values the Jat vote bank - which has traditionally remained divided among the Congress and INLD (and JJP) leaders, but it also knows well enough the value of non-Jat vote bank.

CASTE DYNAMICS

Haryana has intricate caste dynamics. According to unofficial data, while Jats form about 30% (inclusive of about 4% of Jat Sikhs) of the population, the scheduled castes including chamar, balmiki, dhanak are about 21%. There are about 8% Punjabis – a huge chunk of which is of the ones who came from Pakistan after 1947 Partition -, there are about 7% Brahmin, about 6% ahir, 5% baniya, about 4% gujjar, 3.5%, Rajput and Muslims each, 3% kumhar and rors, Bishnoi and khati, about 1%, each.

Jat vote bank majorly sways at least three Lok Sabha seats – Sonepat, Rohtak and Hisar – and about 40 assembly seats spread across the state.

Political observers opine that while the BJP tends to consolidate non-Jat vote bank, indications are that the Jat vote bank would split among the former two-time chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress, Abhay Chautala-led INLD and Dushyant Chautala-led JJP, who are Jat leaders.

Hooda was, thus, first to react following the BJP rejig; Demanding President’s rule, he said that the BJP had accepted defeat even before the polls by breaking the alliance with JJP and changing the CM as there was an agreement between the BJP and JJP so as to divide the anti-government votes.

Reacting to the state’s political developments, Dr Rajender Sharma, head, political science department, Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak, says the changes appear to be as per BJP’s well-thought plan. ``Such an opinion has a basis, for, these changes were made despite the fact that there was neither any revolt nor bickering against Khattar.

Also, such changes are not made just ahead of elections in case of anti-incumbency. Instead, these changes show that the BJP as per its time-tested strategy, tends to consolidate its hold on the backward castes – the other dominating chunk - and pitching them against the Jats in electoral battles. Similarly, it also seems to mobilise the SCs with the exception of the chamars.

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