Janata Parivar losing its touch with Mandal politics

Finishes way behind in Haryana as saffron party outplays it in social engineering

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:28 pm IST

Published - October 21, 2014 03:24 am IST - NEW DELHI

For the parties of the Janata Parivar, the results in Haryana have come as a huge disappointment as their leaders had extensively campaigned for Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the hope that the party would emerge at the top of the heap. Instead, the party ended up with 19, way behind the BJP that won 47 seats.

The parties which were pinning their hopes on Mr. Chautala included the Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular), Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Samajwadi Party.

Leaders of these parties, led by the Janata Dal(U)’s Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar, had hoped to re-create the magic of the Third Front, but failed to do so. JD(U) sources admitted to The Hindu that the BJP succeeded in outstripping the INLD not merely because of the so-called Narendra Modi wave but because the saffron party outplayed it at what it once did best in the heyday of Mandal politics — social engineering.

The BJP’s victory, JD(U) sources said, was due to its success in consolidating the non-Jat vote in the State, especially bringing the OBCs and the Dalits together on one platform. The icing on the cake came when the BJP secured the support of Dera Sacha Sauda, which also draws its support from among these communities.

The election campaigns of the Congress and the INLD were led by Jat leaders — Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Mr. Chautala — and, in fact, the surge in favour of the INLD ended up dividing the Jat vote, leaving the BJP to mop up the rest.

Meanwhile, Congress sources too pointed out that Haryana has had an unbroken succession of Jat chief ministers for the last 18 years — Bansi Lal (Haryana Vikas Party) from 1996 to 1999, followed by Mr. Chautala from 1999-2005. From 2005, it was Mr. Hooda.

A glimpse of the impending problems was witnessed in the battle within the Congress’s Haryana unit ahead of the general elections when Mr. Hooda repeatedly clashed with former Union Minister Kumari Selja, a Dalit leader. Her complaint was that the non-Jats were not being given the political space they deserved. On Monday, a day after the Congress’s comprehensive defeat, Ms. Selja once again publicly hit out at Mr. Hooda.

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, too, the Shiv Sena found that its traditional OBC vote base had been eroded by the BJP, while both the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party were seen chasing the Maratha vote.

In the western State, too, the BJP has successfully made forays among the non-Maratha section of the population — OBCs, Dalits and, of course, the Brahmins.

The BJP’s vote share in both Haryana and Maharashtra indicate that the party’s support base has expanded to include rural voters — Dalits and OBCs — something that was first observed during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

For the Janata Parivar parties, the BJP’s inroads in Mandal territory in new areas comes as a warning that they need to forge a new strategy if they are in anyway to make an impact.

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