Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Khattar prepares for 2.0, Hooda for making a fight of it

Khattar prepares for 2.0, Hooda for making a fight of it

Buoyant and confident BJP eyes a comfortable outing in the upcoming Haryana Assembly elections, as the Opposition — mainly the Congress — scrambles to make the ruling party sweat for the 90 seats up for grabs15 Sep 2019 | 7:05 AM[ + read story ]

4 in 2009,  47 in 2014, BJP sets 75+ target

Party stares at ‘problem of plenty’ in ticket distribution

Pradeep Sharma in Chandigarh

ON October 2, 2014, when the BJP released its election manifesto for the Assembly elections, a section of the media dismissed the party as a “non-entity” in the caste-ridden Haryana politics even though it had formed a government at the Centre under Narendra Modi a few months earlier.

The saffron party sprung one of the biggest surprises in Haryana’s electoral history, increasing its tally from just four MLAs in the House of 90 to 47. Riding on the Modi wave and propped up by non-Jat and urban voters, the BJP formed its first government on its own in the state. Five years down the line, it is aiming for a hitherto impossible proposition: Ab ki baar 75 paar (Mission 75+ MLAs).

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While the other major parties — Congress and INLD — are yet to get their act together primarily on account of rampant factionalism, the BJP under RSS pracharak-turned-Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is exuding confidence of retaining power with an even better performance.

Party on a roll, advantage BJP

If the BJP is sounding confident, it is not without reason. The party won all 10 parliamentary seats in the recent Lok Sabha elections, garnering an impressive 58 per cent vote share. The win was all the more creditable as even former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his three-time MP son Deepender Hooda had to bite the dust in the Jat-dominated districts of Sonepat, Rohtak and Jhajjar.

Prior to its stupendous Lok Sabha win, the BJP had an impressive electoral run, winning five mayoral polls in Rohtak, Hisar, Karnal, Panipat and Yamunanagar. The icing on the cake was the Jind byelection win in which AICC communication in charge and senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala was relegated to the third spot. With just about a month to go for the 2019 Assembly elections, the BJP seems to be the most battle-ready in the state’s electoral arena. With talks of a “mahagathbandhan” or a formidable alternative alliance yet to materialise in Haryana’s political landscape, it is advantage BJP in the ensuing Assembly polls.

Rise in Khattar’s stature

Considered to be a political novice five years ago, Manohar Lal Khattar seems to have emerged as one of the tallest leaders in the state. In fact, for a party which lacks mass leaders among the influential Jat community, Khattar has emerged as a dependable non-Jat face of the party, who has taken along all sections and delivered for the party more than once.

Khattar’s twin mantras of zero-tolerance to corruption and good governance seem to have found resonance with the electorate. In fact, in a state notorious for nepotism in government jobs, CM Khattar’s claims of transparency in job selections are finding favour with educated youth, and the public in general.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior leaders backing Khattar for a second term, uncertainty over the leadership issue in Haryana has been settled by the high command. The other aspirants for the chief ministerial post also seem to have fallen in line, at least for the upcoming Assembly elections.

This, coupled with the ever-expanding mass base of the party in Haryana, has stood the BJP in good stead in the past five years, including in the recent Lok Sabha elections. In the forthcoming Assembly elections, the party is pinning hopes on over three lakh panna pramukhs (voters’ list page in charges) in over 20,000 polling booths for a dominating show.

Issues party is banking on

Though the BJP is banking on equal development in all Assembly segments and “zero-tolerance” to corruption in the Assembly polls, nationalist sentiments in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the Modi factor would continue to be major issues.

The party intends to replicate the success of its 2014 Assembly poll campaign when urban and non-Jat voters overwhelmingly voted for the party, helping it form its first government on its own.

However, the BJP’s bid to retain power may face some hiccups in the wake of ‘problem of plenty’ during the allotment of tickets. With at least 15 MLAs and certain other senior leaders from other parties joining or likely to join the BJP, the high command would have a tough time accommodating all ‘deserving’ candidates.

The party, however, exudes confidence that the issue of ticket allotment would be tackled at the right time by the party high command as there was no promise of ticket to the leaders joining the BJP.

I am the same person, says Khattar

I am the same person who took oath as CM five years back. I have not changed. It is only the perception of my opponents that has changed. They finally realise that politics is public service Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana chief minister

LS result will have no bearing: Hooda

The LS and Assembly polls are entirely different ballgames. The BJP was able to mould opinion on nationalism post the Balakot airstrikes. However, people vote in Assembly polls on local issues Bhupinder Singh Hooda,  Congress leader & former CM

Manohar Lal Khattar has come a long way from his handling of the 2016 Jat agitation and looks set to return to power. Not just that, he aims to increase  the BJP’s tally in a state where before 2014 it was considered a non-entity

After a prolonged delay, the Congress has tried to stem the entrenched infighting in the state unit, but the decision could prove to be too late in the day. The party, though, is hopeful of springing a surprise

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