The Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) is gearing up to contest the Rajasthan Assembly poll and eyeing seats that the BJP, its coalition partner in the Haryana government, failed to win in past elections in the desert State. The strategy is expected to keep the door open for the two parties to form another alliance.
The JJP will launch its poll campaign with a rally at Sikar on September 25, which coincides with the birth anniversary of late Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal.
There has been no formal discussion on an alliance so far, but Haryana Deputy Chief Minister and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala had informed the BJP’s central leadership about the party’s plans to contest the Rajasthan poll before putting in place its organisational set-up in the State, JJP spokesperson Deep Kamal Saharan told The Hindu.
“The party has identified 20-25 seats in districts along the border with Haryana, from Sri Ganganagar to Bharatpur. Most of these seats have not been won by the BJP in the past elections. This will make it easy for the two parties to forge an alliance,” he said.
The JJP, formed in 2018 following a split in the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), entered Rajasthan’s political arena through its youth wing, the Indian National Students Organisation (INSO). Last year, the INSO won polls to student bodies in a few colleges and a university in the State.
Soon, senior JJP leaders — party national president Ajay Chautala, Mr. Dushyant Chautala, and party general secretary Digvijay Chautala — began visiting the State twice or thrice a week. The JJP then set up its State unit, constituted around six district units, and held a rally in Kotputli.
However, no member of the Chautala family is likely to contest the poll. The JJP is aiming to field leaders from rival parties who had recently joined its fold such as former Lunkaransar MLA Maniram Singh, former Navalgarh MLA Pratibha Singh, and former Sikar Congress district president Rita Singh.
Ms. Rita Singh is the wife of Dataramgarh MLA Virender Singh and daughter-in-law of former Rajasthan Congress chief Narayan Singh, who has been a seven-time MLA.
The Chautalas have ancestral roots in Bikaner’s Nokha village and earlier contested and won elections from Rajasthan. Late Chaudhary Devi Lal was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha from Sikar in 1989 and went on to become the Deputy Prime Minister. Ajay Singh Chautala has been elected as an MLA from Rajasthan twice: Dantaramgarh in 1989, and Nohar in 1998.
In 2003, the INLD won four Assembly seats in Rajasthan. It fought the 2008 Assembly election in an alliance with the BJP, but failed to win any seats. Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party also unsuccessfully contested the Assembly election on the INLD symbol in 2003.
“Before the split, the INLD contested polls in rural Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh as well. Aiming to revive the party’s presence in these areas, the JJP contested the Assembly poll in Delhi. Similarly, the party has decided to fight the Rajasthan election to revive its political presence. Winning Assembly seats outside Haryana would also help the party meet the criterion to gain the national party tag,” Mr. Saharan said.
‘Lacking in charisma’
According to Rajendra Sharma, Head, Political Science Department, Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, farmer leaders like Chaudhary Charan Singh and Chaudhary Devi Lal had significant political influence among the Jats in around six Rajasthan districts along Haryana border. However, it would be difficult for the JJP to wield similar influence with none of its present leaders having the same charisma.
Mr. Sharma added that Rajasthan politics is now dominated by two parties – the BJP and the Congress – for almost four decades, and it will be difficult for a new entrant to make a significant dent.
“A tie-up with the BJP, which is unlikely, or fielding disgruntled leaders of other parties could improve the JJP’s prospects,” he said.