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Mainstream, VOL LII No 36, August 30, 2014

INLD Victory in Hisar: A Game-changer in Haryana Politics

Sunday 31 August 2014, by Ranbir Singh

by Ranbir Singh

The victory of the INLD candidate, Dushyant Chautala (grandson of O.P. Chautala and great grandson of legendary Jat leader Devi Lal), over the BJP-HJC alliance candidate, Kuldeep Bishnoi (son of former Chief Minister of Haryana Bhajan Lal), by a margin of 31,847 votes from the Hisar parliamentary constituency may prove to be a game-changer in Haryana politics. It is pertinent to mention that Kuldeep Bishnoi had been projected by the alliance as the prospective candidate for the office of the Chief Minister in the forthcoming Haryana Legislative Assembly elections scheduled to be held in October 2014. But the INLD victory in Hisar has given rise to new possibilities. The BJP may jettison the HJC and could decide to go it alone. Alternatively, it may retain the alliance but cut Kuldeep Bishnoi and his party to size by refusing to project him as the candidate for the office of the Chief Minister and by compelling him to reduce the seat-share of the HJC from 45 out of 90 seats to 25 or so.

The above development leads to the question: why did Kuldeep Bishnoi lose in spite of the strong Modi wave that had enabled the BJP to win by huge margins on seven out of the eight parliamentary seats which it had contested? This question may be answered to some extent by making the Assembly segment-wise analysis of the votes polled by the HJC, INLD and INC in the Hisar parliamentary constituency in the polls held on April 10, 2014.

It is pertinent to mention here that the present Hisar parliamentary constituency comprising of Uchana, Adampur, Uklana, Narnaund, Hansi, Barwala, Hisar and Nalwa Assembly segments of Hisar district and Bawani Khera segment of Bhiwani district had been created before the 2009 parliamentary elections. It is perceived as a Jat dominated constituency. However, the founder of the HJC, Bhajan Lal, a former Chief Minister of Haryana, had been elected from here in those elections due to polarisation of the non- Jat votes in his favour and the division of Jat votes among the Jat candidates, Jai Parkash of the INC and Sampat Singh of the INLD. Sampat Singh had, however, defected from the INLD and joined the Congress soon after the parlia-mentary elections. After the death of Bhajan Lal in 2010, his son Kuldeep Bishnoi had been elected from Hisar in a by-election held in 2011 due to sympathy for him owing to the demise of his father (Singh, 2011) and on account of the polarisation of non-Jat votes in his favour due to the Mirchpur episode (Singh and Kumar, 2011), the Jat agitation for reservations, and the Jat-Dalit conflict in Bhagana. (Rajalakshmi, 2014)

In the Jat-dominated rural segment of Uchana, represented by a Jat MLA—O.P. Chautala of the INLD, the HJC and INC candidates obtained 57.91, 24.06 and 8.68 per cent votes respectively, whereas in the Bishnoi-dominated rural segment of Adampur, represented by Renuka—a Bishnoi MLA of HJC and wife of the HJC supremo, Kuldeep Bishnoi, they secured 36.01, 49.48 and 7.73 per cent votes respectively. Again in the Jat-dominated rural segment of Uklana, represented by a Scheduled Caste Congress MLA—Naresh Selwal, their vote-share was 52.38, 29.14 and 9.26 per cent respectively. Likewise, in the Jat-dominated rural segment of Narnaund represented by Saroj Mor, a Jat MLA of the INLD, they obtained 56.48, 27.17 and 9.23 per cent votes respectively. In the Punjabi- dominated semi-urban Hansi segment, repre-sented by Vinod Bhayana, a Punjabi who had defected from the HJC to the Congress-I after the 2009 Haryana Assembly elections and had been appointed as the Chief Parliamentary Secretary in the Congress Government of the State headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the percentage of votes polled by them was 36.69, 44.34 and 9.67 per cent respectively. In the non-Jat dominated rural segment of Barwala, represented by Ram Niwas Ghorela, a Backward Class MLA of Congress-I, they obtained 36.09, 46.98 and 7.77 per cent votes respectively. In the urban segment of Hisar, represented by Savitri Jindal, a Bania MLA of the Congress-I, who is a Minister in the State Government and where the Punjabis and Banias are the dominant social formations, their vote-share was 22.77, 63.36 and 4.73 per cent respectively. In the non-Jat dominated rural segment of Nalwa, which is represented by Sampat Singh, a Jat MLA of the Congress-I and the candidate of the party from the Hisar parliamentary constituency, they secured 43.56, 38.81 and 10.30 per cent votes respectively. Again in the non-Jat dominated rural segment of Bawani Khera, represented by a Scheduled Caste MLA of the Congress-I, Ram Kishan Fauji, who holds the office of Parliamentary Secretary in the State Government, their vote-shares were 42.78, 40.02 and 8.87 per cent respectively.

The above discussion leads us to the following broad and tentative conclusions (Sharma, 2014):

1. There appears to have taken place almost complete consolidation of the Jat votes in favour of the INLD candidate and almost total polarisation of the non-Jat votes in favour of the BJP-HJC alliance candidate. Hence, they secured 42.78 and 40.02 per cent votes respectively.

2. The support base of the INC was virtually completely eroded as its candidate, Sampat Singh, a sitting MLA from Nalwa, obtained only 8.87 per cent votes in the constituency and even in the Nalwa segment he could muster only 10.30 per cent votes.

3. The Modi factor appears to have been eclipsed by the caste divide in the Hisar parliamentary constituency. Otherwise, the BJP-HJC alliance candidate could have won hands down like all other candidates of the BJP except that of Rohtak who lost to the sitting MP, Deepender Singh, a Jat candidate and son of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, in that Jat-dominated constituency, again due to the weakening of the Modi factor in that constituency.

Be that as it may, it may be concluded from the above discussion that the pattern of social cleavages and political alignments remained almost unaffected in the Hisar parliamentary constituency of Haryana in spite of the powerful impact of the Modi wave in the 2014 parlia-mentary elections that had catapulted the BJP into the seat of power with a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, due to the consolidation of Jat votes in favour of the INLD. However, the above statement has to be treated as no more than a tentative hypothesis and deserves a deeper probe through booth-wise analysis of various segments of the Hisar parliamentary constituency.

References

Rajalakshmi, T.K., “High Tension in Hisar”, Frontline, Vol. 31, No. 10, May 17-30, 2014, pp. 38-40.

Singh, Ranbir, “The Hisar Bye-Election: Myth and Reality”, Economic and Political Weekly, November 12, 2011, Vol. XLVI, No. 46, pp. 16-17.

Singh, Surinder and Kumar, Rajiv, “Caste-Based Violence and Displacement of Deaths in India: A Study of Mirchpur (Haryana)”, Punjab Journal of Politics, Vol. XXXV, Nos. 1-2, 2011, pp. 49-58.

Sharma, Parvesh, “Price that Bishnoi paid for playing non-Jat card”, The Tribune, Chandigarh, 18th May, 2014, p. 3.

The author is a former Professor and the Chairman, Department of Political Science, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, Haryana.