Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections have proven to be a jolt back to reality for the BJP as the results came well below the ruling party’s expectations. A perception was created that BJP would win more than 70 seats in Haryana and that Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had consolidated the non-Jat vote while the majority Jat community was split between INLD (OP Chautala) and Congress (Bhupinder Hooda). The Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections have not been as smooth a walk for BJP as was expected by political analysts.
It was observed that BJP tried to stir up nationalist sentiments in the elections with references to the abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, implementing National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the challenge of caste politics. The strategy clearly had no impact on the voters but the economic slowdown and high unemployment left their imprint on the poll outcome.
The party will have to introspect on the outcome and understand that there is a limit to which abrogation of Article 370 can be milked and the promises of implementing NRC have stopped impressing the voters. BJP needs to understand that the voters have begun seeing through their divisive and communal agenda.
The results bear an indication that the BJP will form the government in Maharashtra, but not without Shiv Sena’s assistance which might settle for deputy Chief Ministership for Aaditya Thackeray or demand rotation of the chief minister’s post with each party in the saddle for two-and-a-half years. Shiv Sena is expected to play the role of the dominant partner despite the BJP having more seats. This wake-up call for BJP is rightfully being dubbed as “Jaat Jolt” because the Jaat Community preferred INLD and Congress over BJP.
One thing which impacted the BJP’s prospects was the agitation over reservation by Jats in Haryana and Marathas in Maharashtra also. The Jats threw their weight behind Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Dushyant Chautala. This was apparent in state finance minister Captain Abhimanyu, the BJP’s Jat face, losing the elections. In Maharashtra, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was benefitted from support of the Marathas.
The message of Prime Minister Modi after the Haryana fiasco lacks the very introspection that this defeat demands. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah addressed the gathering of the party workers at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi and expressed their gratitude to the people of Haryana for expressing their faith in the BJP yet again.
He said : “I thank the people of Haryana for blessing us. We will continue to work with the same zeal and dedication for the state’s progress. I laud the efforts of hardworking BJP Haryana Karyakartas who toiled extensively and went among the people to elaborate on our development agenda”.
BJP government has failed to deliver on economic front and this sentiment was echoed in the recent elections where the Jat community voted strategically for stronger candidates of Congress and JJP on selective seats with the sole aim of defeating BJP.
This also points to the fact that anger of rural youth coupled with unemployment spelled trouble for BJP. As per CMIE, the rate of unemployment in Haryana is nearly three times more than the national average.
Instead of working on better policies, BJP is trying to woo the voters by the star power of known wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and Babita Phogat which also failed to turn the Bharatiya Janta Party’s fortunes in the tough seats of Baroda and Dadri in Haryana. While Phogat lost the Dadri seat to independent candidate Somvir Sangwan, Dutt was defeated in Baroda by Congress’ sitting MLA Sri Kishen Hooda, who had won the seat in 2014 despite a powerful performance by the BJP.