It was a huge climb down for the Congress party in Haryana - from nine seats in 2009 to just one this time. The outcome has more than mere national level significance as the assembly elections are to be held later this year. The BJP won 7 of the 8 seats it contested and secured 34.7 per cent. Its alliance partner Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) contested on two and lost both seats to the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The vote share of the INLD increased to 24.4 per cent, a positive swing of nearly nine percentage points. The only seat that the Congress could win is Rohtak from where Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s son Deepender won for the third consecutive time. The decline in the Congress’s vote share compared to 2009 was close to nineteen percentage points.
The Congress party in Haryana faced anti-incumbency at both the State and National level. The party had been in power for two consecutive terms in the State as well as in the Centre. As a result this election was certainly going to be tough for the Congress party. The rise of Narendra Modi further added to the difficulties of the Congress party. The CSDS survey reveals that Mr. Modi was the choice of nearly 48 per cent of the respondents in Haryana, which was much higher than his overall national popularity.
The BJP succeeded in consolidating most of the castes except for the Dalits and the Jats. Nearly 52 per cent Brahmins and 51 per cent OBCs voted for the party, as per the CSDS survey. The Congress drew most of its support from Dalits (41 per cent) and Muslims (65 per cent) while the INLD took a bulk of the Jat (54 per cent) and Sikh vote (40 per cent). The caste factor seems to have particularly played a major role on two seats – Hisar and Gurgaon. INLD candidate Dushyant Chautala’s victory in Hisar against the HJC’s Kuldip Bishnoi was a result of Jat, non-Jat polarisation. The party also seems to have benefitted from sympathy for the Chautalas.
The outcome of the election has created new possibilities. The BJP may jettison or marginalise the HJC as the latter has failed to prove its credentials after its defeat in Hisar and Sirsa. With a handsome share of 35 per cent votes in the State and the confidence gained by the National-level victory, the BJP may be tempted to go it alone in the coming Assembly Election. In that event, the social bases of different parties in the State are certain to reconfigure.
The authors are with the Department of Political Science, Dyal Singh College, Karnal (Haryana)