BJP coming to power in Haryana seems pretty certain, the question is will they need an ally to cement their position? The answer to that lies in observing closely BJP’s overall national plan and then try and see the strategy the party is likely to follow in Haryana.
BJP is expected to win between 45-54 seats in Haryana, according to most exit polls. If one takes the lowest figure for reference, they are still at the halfway mark and if the party ends up with say, 52 seats, then its gets clear majority. INLD is expected to emerge as the next largest party with a projected number between 23-26, the INC between 10-12 seats, HJC between 5-9 seats and Others collectively getting 4-6 seats.
There is every likelihood that the BJP will end up with a clear majority in Haryana, which means that it does not need to go in for an alliance to come to power. A clear majority in Haryana means more representation in Rajya Sabha, which is a weak spot for the BJP since it does not have the requisite numbers to push through its reforms agenda, without running into the opposition wall. So a clear majority in Haryana will be very welcome for the BJP.
But in Haryana, the dilemma before the BJP is going to be whether to work out alliances despite having a clear majority or to go it alone. This is where the nuances of state politics come into play.
Major dilemma to ally or to go it alone
The BJP would like to woo both the Jat and the Dalit vote bank. An outreach to both communities can pay rich dividends subsequently, in its larger plan to break into the politically prized state of U.P. The BJP couldn’t break the stranglehold in U.P. this time, but the strategic combine of Modi & Shah, would certainly be looking into the future. And Haryana could well be the ground where it can start cementing its position with both vote banks of Jat and Dalit.
The BJP realizes that INLD still has influence with a sizeable Jat vote bank in the state and that is obvious from the number of seats INLD is likely to win, however, a comparative analysis of INLD’s performance in the last elections with the projected seats in this one shows that INLD is losing ground in the state. INLD won 31 seats in 2009 and in 2014 the number is likely to come down to around mid-twenties.
In all probability the BJP would like to tie-up with INLD with two objectives in mind; one, to reach out to the greater Jat segment and the other, to break the INC in Haryana. The move can cement BJP’s position in Haryana for the next round in 2019 as a weak opposition will help BJP to push its development agenda in Haryana and in the process strengthen its hold further.
For INLD, jumping onto the BJP bandwagon would probably be a safer bet since the father-son duo of Om Prakash and Ajay Chautala are likely to remain in jail for some time to come and have been rendered politically ineffective. INLD has little chance of regaining lost ground on its own and therefore it may make better strategic sense to work an alliance with BJP rather than sit in the assembly as an ineffective opposition.
However, a tie-up with INLD just to further weaken INC’s hold on the state could be a double-edged sword. INLD went out of power due to corruption and its lumpen elements, who made their presence felt in all walks of life. The shades of the same were seen in clashes by INLD supporters on voting day. Any leeway given to INLD in the state could well see the same elements raise their heads again and that’s something BJP will not want on its plate.
In Capt. Abhimanyu, the Jat community have one of their own, therefore he could further consolidate the relationship within the community, without any help from INLD, while also being an acceptable candidate to win over the Dalits. It will be a challenge but Capt. Abhimanyu seems to be the best bet for the BJP to reach out and further build relationships with the community.
The Dalits have been traditionally opposed to Jat domination but have not been able to politically assert themselves, therefore any tie-up with INLD is likely to push the Dalits further away rather than bring them closer to the BJP.
The other option for an alliance is a natural one in HJC. The two parties have been partners earlier and fell out on account of disagreement on seat sharing rather than any clash of ideology, therefore there is every likelihood that HJC could go in for an alliance with the BJP or even merge itself with the party, in time.
Kuldeep Bishnoi has some tough choices to make especially as the exit polls suggest that his party will more or less remain at the same level as in 2009. There is little room for HJC to break-out of the situation it finds itself in and therefore the best option for it may be to merge itself with the BJP. This is one move that will be watched closely in the state.
Ekla Chalo re strategy
Between the two, the BJP will probably do well to continue to rule Haryana without INLD and work towards building grass root relationships with traditional vote banks of Jats and Dalits, on its own. In this year’s election, BJP has taken a gamble on following the ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ strategy in both Maharashtra and Haryana and it seems to have worked well for the party.
It’s now for the BJP to set both these states on a development path that is in keeping with its overall India strategy of ‘development’ as its core issue, while continuing to position itself as a truly National party, with Narendra Modi as its rallying point.