Elections in Haryana are slated to be held along with Maharashtra on 21st October. The results will be declared on 24th October. While BJP is contesting under the leadership of current Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Congress has appointed Kumari Selja as its President after a lot of internal squabbles. Chautala’s party INLD which finished runner up in 2014 state elections has split. Smaller parties like AAP and BSP are also competing to make a mark.

In the first opinion poll released for the state by ABP, BJP is expected to sweep the state bagging 78 out of 90 seats. This means it is expected to repeat its performance in 2019 general elections where it was leading in 79 seats. The goodwill enjoyed by PM Modi and the fact that elections are being held within six months of Lok Sabha elections is helping the cause of Khattar. To a section of voters, ‘same government at the center and in the state will lead to better development’formula also works.

  1. Consolidation of non-Jat voters in favour of Khattar

Jats have dominated the political scene in the state. The state has had Jat CM for 33 years and non Jat CM for 20 years since its existence as per TOI report. While Devi Lal and Bansi Lal have been the tallest Jat leader, Bhajan Lal has been the tallest non-Jat leader of the state. The Jat votes have oscillated between Congress and INLD (earlier Janata Dal).

BJP has always been seen in the state as a non-Jat party. Hence it was no surprise that it chose a Punjabi Khatri as its CM nominee. The BJP has been able to consolidate its support among non-Jat voters like Brahmins, Khatris, Sikh, Baniyas, Gujjars, Yadavs, OBCs, Dalits and emerge victorious despite winning only 9 of the 37 Jat dominated seats.

The split in INLD and decline in Hooda’s popularity due to corruption cases has disillusioned a section of Jat voters. They were seen voting overwhelmingly for BJP (52%; more than half of population), in 2019 general elections. Now BJP has created a social bloc unthinkable earlier which includes Jat as well as non-Jat voters.

  1. Absence of a united opposition

Sonia has managed to silence the infighting gripping the state unit for some time by appointing a new state President Kumari Selja and making Bhupinder Singh Hooda the Congress Legislature Party leader. Hooda who was showing rebellious tendencies has been convinced to stay on and not float a regional party.

Om Prakash Chautala’s party INLD has faced a split. One of his sons Abhay Chautala now controls INLD while his second son Ajay Chautala and grandsons Dushyant and Digvijay have floated a new party Jannayak Janata Party (JJP). Both INLD and JJP are invoking the legacy of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal and seeking votes in his name.

This is expected to split the Jat votes which account for 27% of population. INLD had received 42% support from Jats in 2014 state elections, who are kingmakers in 37 seats. JJP is considered by many as having the upper hand in the family dispute. While JJP recorded 5% vote share in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, INLD suffered a jolt managing barely 2% votes (-22% compared to 2014).

Then there is AAP which is making its debut. Kejriwal belongs to the state. In the Lok Sabha polls it had contested together with JJP, now its contesting alone. Mayawati’s BSP which secured 4.4% vote share in 2014 has ended her alliance with INLD and joined hands with rebel BJP leader Raj Kumar Saini’s party Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP). All this is likely to split the anti-BJP vote.

  1. Popularity of Khattar and Modi

India is more and more showing tendencies of Presidential style elections under Modi. The leadership angle is increasingly playing a key role in voter’s decisions. Khattar leads the popularity ratings in ABP poll with 48%. Hooda and Dushyant even on a combined basis are just at half of Khattar’s approval ratings.

In Haryana for 23% of the voters PM candidate mattered the most while voting in general elections 2019 versus national average of 17%. 32% of BJP voters wouldn’t have voted for the party if Modi wasn’t the PM candidate. These two points highlight the popularity of Modi which has received a boost after the Article 370 decision. He is considered as India’s best PM ahead of Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

  1. Implementation of central government schemes

The poor overwhelmingly voted for BJP in 2019 general elections because Modi government introduced many schemes for their upliftment. Haryana under the leadership of Khattar has been at the forefront of realizing Modi’s dream of sabka saath sabka vikas.

  • Under the PM Awas Yojana (Gramin) the state has constructed 35.8 thousand houses.
  • The state has distributed cooking gas connections to 7.3 lakh households.
  • 27 lakh farmers have benefitted from the PM Kisan yojana in the state, 2nd highest in the country.
  • 35 lakh accounts of poor have been opened leading to their financial inclusion.
  • Under the Mudra yojana, 22, 652 crores of loans have been provided to entrepreneurial women, SHGs and small businesses
  1. Development work carried out under Khattar

The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) programhas been a huge success with the child sex ratio crossing 900. The government has launched a mobile app named ‘Durga Shakti’to help women in distress which is popular. The government has increased scholarships for Scheduled Caste. To stop the menace of honour killings it has increased the shagun for inter-caste marriages. The ‘CM Window’ e-governance module has taken governance to the door steps of citizens. The government is giving subsidy of Rs. 7,500 crore every year for tubewells to promote micro irrigation.

To sum up, Khattar has come a long way after some setbacks initially related to the arrest of Rampal, Baba Rahim and widespread violence during Jat protests. The underdog CM is now quite popular and a listless opposition means he has a shot at equalling Bhajan Lal’s record of longest serving non-Jat CM.

Image Credit: theindianwire