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In Haryana, BJP banks mainly on non-Jat support

The BJP has appointed both the Chief Minister as well as the state president from the non-Jat communities. While Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini belongs to the Saini community, which falls in the OBC category, the new state president of the party is Mohan Lal Badoli, a Brahmin leader.

News Arena Network - Chandigarh - UPDATED: July 10, 2024, 08:38 AM - 6 mins read

Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini.

In Haryana, BJP banks mainly on non-Jat support

Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini.


The Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana appears to have taken a leaf straight from the ‘political book’ of former Congress Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, who always banked on the non-Jat support in a Jat-dominated state and remained a dominant political figure for a long time in state politics serving as the Chief Minister of the state for twelve years.

 

The BJP has appointed both the Chief Minister as well as the state president from the non-Jat communities. While Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini belongs to the Saini community, which falls in the OBC category, the new state president of the party is Mohan Lal Badoli, a Brahmin leader.

In an apparent balancing act, it has appointed Satish Poonia, a Jat leader from Rajasthan as the party’s ‘in-charge’ for Haryana. 

 

Although the Jat community in general and Haryana, in particular, has always identified with the national mainstream, it does not mostly seem to have found much traction for the BJP, which is the dominant mainstream political force in the country right now.

 

That is probably because, by the time the BJP emerged as a strong force in Indian politics, the space had already been occupied by the Congress and Janata Party led by Devi Lal, a towering Jat leader. 

 

Haryana politics has been dominated by the Jats, who are estimated to constitute about 25 per cent of the state’s population. Originally the Jats, like other communities, identified with the Congress for a long time after the country became independent. 

 

Gradually as the opposition space was created, different sorts of leaders emerged. Devi Lal was one of the towering, majestically tall in physique, Jat leaders, who was a staunch opponent of the Congress and rose to become the Deputy Prime Minister of India in 1989. 

 

Had he not declined it himself, he would have been the Prime Minister of India as he offered the position to VP Singh.

 

As the BJP assumed the centre stage late in national politics, so did it in Haryana. The dominant Jat community by that time had already identified mostly with the Congress or Janta Party represented by Devi Lal. 

 

Since the Jat community dominated the two main parties, the non-Jats found space in the BJP, which was not even on the margins until as late as the early 2000s. 

It piggybacked on Devi Lal’s Janata Party in 1977 or Bansi Lal’s Haryana Vikas Party in 1996 and later for a while the Indian National Lok Dal headed by Om Prakash Chautala, Devi Lal’s son, in 1999.

 

Riding the pro-Modi nationwide wave, the BJP won nine of the ten parliamentary seats in the 2014 General Elections in Haryana. 

 

In the assembly elections that followed immediately, it won an absolute majority of its own, which would have sounded unimaginable just a year ago.

 

BJP repeated the feat in 2019, in the aftermath of another General Election when it won ten out of ten in the parliament, but fell short of a simple majority, emerging as the single largest party in the subsequent assembly elections.

 

 It aligned with the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), a party led by Ajay Chautala after he fell away with his father OP Chautala and brother Abhay Chautala. 

 

Here comes the catch for the BJP. With the Jat community primarily divided between the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and its offshoot, the JJP, the BJP hopes to continue with its efforts to consolidate and rally the non-Jat communities behind it.

 

While the Jat community is the single largest group, there are other non-Jat communities like the OBCs including Sainis, Ahirs and Gujjars. 

 

Then there are other communities like the Brhamins, the Banias, and the Punjabi/Khatri/Arora communities, all of whom have felt ignored and marginalised by the dominant Jat community.

 

Before the BJP, it was Bhajan Lal, who consolidated the non-Jat communities, who always rallied behind him.

BJP appears to have simply taken a leaf out of Bhajan Lal’s book by appointing Nayab Singh Saini, an OBC as the Chief Minister and Mohan Lal Badoli, a Brahmin as the state president. It has appointed Satish Poonia, a Jat leader from Haryana as the party in charge for Haryana.

 

The Congress has already hinted at handing over the reins to Bhupinder Singh Hooda, a two-time Chief Minister and a prominent Jat leader. Hooda enjoys considerable influence among the Jat community in the Jat-dominated areas of Rohtak, Bhiwani, Sonipat and Hisar. 

 

Late Devi Lal’s descendants, who are divided between INLD and JJP headed by his two grandsons, Abhay and Ajay Chautala respectively, also enjoy some influence among the Jat community. 

 

The BJP expects the Jat vote to get divided between Congress, the INLD and the JJP.

 

It won five of the ten parliamentary constituencies in Haryana in the recent General Elections. It led from 46 constituencies, while the Congress won from 44. 

 

The Congress was in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party, which though not a force to reckon with, has small pockets of influence. Since there is no alliance in the state elections between the Congress and the AAP, the party may mainly cut into the Congress votes to the advantage of the BJP. 

Related Tags:#Haryana BJP
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