May 12, 2024
BJP Faces Rejection in Haryana

Inderjit Singh

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THE ongoing Lok Sabha elections have become nothing short of an endless nightmare for the BJP in Haryana. Having secured all 10 seats in 2019, the party is now uncertain about retaining even half of them this time around. In an unexpected turn of events, the BJP government in the state has suddenly found itself reduced to a minority.

In a sudden change of leadership just two months ago, Manohar Lal Khattar was replaced by one of the party's sitting MPs, Nayab Singh Saini. However, this move has proven to be futile, seemingly aimed at mitigating the anti-incumbency sentiment that had accumulated during the BJP's two terms in Haryana.

Interestingly, little did they know that an even greater ordeal awaited them in the form of a dramatic development reducing the BJP government into a minority. On May 7, the BJP government was left with the support of only 43 members in the house, which has an effective strength of 88, following the sudden withdrawal of support by three independent legislators. These legislators, whose decisive support had secured a confidence vote for the incumbent CM Nayab Saini less than two months ago, have not only withdrawn their support from the BJP government but have also joined the opposition Congress camp led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Had this been any other opposition-led state government facing a similar predicament, the BJP would have likely demanded its dismissal or made frantic attempts to form an alternate government. However, in this scenario, it's unlikely that the BJP will adhere to democratic principles and ask Nayab Singh Saini to resign from his minority government and submit the resignation to the governor. While this government may not collapse immediately due to technical or other reasons, the BJP has undoubtedly suffered a severe blow right in the midst of the Lok Sabha election campaign. In this context, former CM Manohar Lal Khattar made an absurd remark, claiming a hypothetical majority as some opposition MLAs were in contact with BJP, he said.

What makes the current developments in Haryana even more intriguing is the shifting cast of characters involved in the game of toppling governments.

So far, it has been the exclusive purview of Modi-Shah to engage in unsavory and ignominious acts of toppling elected state governments using money or agencies like the ED/CBI. However, this time, they find themselves at the receiving end of such maneuvers in Haryana. It's important to note that this high drama is not unfolding by chance or at the behest of the Congress opposition, but rather as a result of the BJP's increasing isolation among the electorate in Haryana, leaving its fellow travelers uncertain about their future with assembly elections just four months away in October.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, all 10 seats were won by the BJP as it capitalised on the then extraordinary situation through the emotive exploitation of the Pulwama episode followed by the Balakot air strikes to gain electoral advantage, seeking votes in the name of the 40 martyrs. It's evident that the BJP would have likely lost at least half of those seats had it not been for the atmosphere of frenzy and nationalistic fervor.

This assertion finds support in the results of the Haryana assembly elections held just four months after the Lok Sabha polls in October 2019. At that time, the BJP had confidently predicted crossing the 75-seat mark out of a total strength of 90 in the Haryana assembly, much like their current claim of crossing 400 seats. However, they fell short of a simple majority, securing only 40 seats, which was 5 seats short of the majority mark. The BJP managed to form the government only in coalition with the JJP, a new political outfit formed due to the perpetual family feud within the Chautala clan, which saw Dushyant Chautala, one of the grandsons of Om Prakash Chautala, a former chief minister, breaking away to form his own party. He secured 10 seats on an anti-BJP platform but demanded the post of deputy CM in exchange for supporting the Khattar regime for a second term.

Over time, Dushyant Chautala's utility waned, and he became a liability for the BJP, which had already won over the majority of his MLAs. By replacing Khattar, the Modi-Shah duo managed to rid themselves of Dushyant Chautala and instead garnered the support of some independents to make up for the deficiency. However, this act of manipulation has now backfired.

The change of chief minister was aimed at addressing the anti-incumbency resulting from the two terms of BJP misrule under Khattar's leadership, disregarding the role of anti-incumbency against prime minister Modi. People have not forgotten how the three farm laws were promulgated through an ordinance during the Covid epidemic, which led farmers to stage a protest for 13 months, enduring extreme weather conditions at the borders of Haryana. They also remember the ruthless treatment meted out by the Delhi police to Olympic medalist women wrestlers, who were fighting to defend their self-respect against predators like Brij Bhushan

No one has forgotten how the Haryana police, under Khattar's leadership, brutally attacked farmers from Punjab with tear gas shells and rubber bullets, injuring hundreds and resulting in the death of Shubh Karan Singh. Almost all peaceful and legitimate protests were suppressed through the use of police force during the Khattar government's tenure, including those led by newly elected sarpanchs, scheme workers, guest teachers, and farmers.

Further, a minister accused of sexual assault by a female athlete was brazenly retained in Khattar's cabinet despite being charged by the Chandigarh police and facing agitation from women's organisations.

The poorer sections have endured hardships due to policies such as Parivar Pehchan Patra and linking MNREGA with Aadhar cards, which have made welfare schemes exclusive and inaccessible to those in need. Education, health, transport, and electricity have been privatised, while universities and colleges have become breeding grounds for covert activities of the RSS.

Cattle farmers, particularly those from minority communities, have been targeted and even lynched by so-called "Gouraksha" gangs under official patronage. Laws such as Love Jihad and anti-conversion laws were enacted by the BJP government, serving no real necessity except to fuel religious-based polarisation.

Haryana currently faces the highest rate of unemployment, with 2 lakh government posts lying unfilled. The ill-considered implementation of the Agniveer plan in the Indian army has exacerbated the plight of unemployed youth. Additionally, the alarming rise in crime and drug addiction has reached serious levels.

 The blind pursuit of neoliberal policies by the Modi government, replicated by Haryana, has led the state into penury and bankruptcy. The vital agriculture sector is grappling with acute crises, burdening farmers and agricultural workers with mounting indebtedness. The Land Acquisition Act of 2013 was surreptitiously amended to become entirely pro-corporate, stripping away all progressive clauses aimed at safeguarding the livelihoods and rehabilitation of the peasantry dependent on the lands to be acquired. Institutionalised corruption runs rampant in all government departments, including municipal corporations.

It comes as little surprise that a party claiming to be the largest in the world, to be a party with a difference, has fielded a majority of its  candidates who are defectors with dubious profiles. For instance, the BJP's candidate in Sirsa, Ashok Tanwar, was the state Congress president before leaving the party to join the TMC. Subsequently, he left the TMC and joined the AAP, only to then join the BJP. A folk anecdote circulating in the media compares Ashok Tanwar to a cat that takes its newborn kittens to seven households one after another.

Similarly, leading industrialist Navin Jindal, a former Congress MP from Kurukshetra, facing charges of corruption in the Coal scam, has been forced to contest as a BJP nominee. The rest of the BJP candidates are no better.

BJP candidates are facing the wrath of farmers and other rural sections for their antagonistic treatment, particularly during the 13-month agitation. They are met with black flags during election campaigns across the state and are subjected to questioning in village-level meetings, causing significant embarrassment.

The INDIA Alliance is jointly contesting the election with the Congress fighting on nine seats while leaving Kurukshetra for the AAP.

Left parties CPI(M) and CPI are actively campaigning to ensure the success of the INDIA Alliance throughout the state. A joint state-level convention of both parties adopted a charter of burning issues concerning various sections as early as September 17. Subsequently, district-level workers' conventions were organised, culminating in an impressive public meeting in Jind on March 9, which was attended by Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary and Amarjeet Kaur, CPI national leader among others.

The CPI(M) Haryana state committee has urged its rank and file to vigorously participate in the elections, even though the CPI(M) has not fielded any candidates this time. It has instructed all its units up to the branch level to conduct independent and joint campaigns to ensure the success of INDIA alliance candidates. Party leaders and cadres have been actively present during the filing of nominations by candidates and have actively participated in election meetings. Mass organisations are also actively highlighting issues and alternative policies through independent meetings, explaining the stakes for democracy and livelihoods if the BJP is not decisively defeated.

Undoubtedly, there is a strong undercurrent against the BJP, and common people have taken it upon themselves to bring about a secular and democratic government by replacing the corporate and communal Modi government.


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