September 14, 2014

AKHADA - Part III

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN HARYANA POLLS 2014


1. Will the dual power center hurt the Congress? For ten years, Bhupinder Singh Hooda was the undisputed leader of the grand old party in Haryana. For the trust that the Gandhi family out in him, he delivered; two consecutive wins in the state besides sending 9 MPs to the Parliament when the UPA was in power in New Delhi. The defeat of the INC at the hands of the BJP in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls has put a question mark over the future of the incumbent CM. The murmurs of discontent against Hooda that were brewing within the state unit of the Congress for some time now are now out in the open. After Ajay Yadav threatened to quit the party if it projected Hooda as its CM candidate, the Congress has constituted a new committee to put up a unite face. In what is seen as a move to cut dissidents, Yadav has been made the head of the INC's campaign in its bid to win a third straight term. Another Hooda baiter, former MP Kumari Selja too is a part of this group. However, to balance the power equations, the CM and his son Deepak who is currently the only Congress MP from Haryana too have been included in the committee. Now, the problem with such an arrangement is that it has created two camps within the state unit. This could seriously jeopardize the process of candidate selection with each faction trying to get nominations for its followers. Moreover, in case the INC wins, selecting the next Haryana CM could be next to impossible for the Congress.

2. Is BJP the 'B team' of the Congress? Remember that time, earlier this year when the BJP used to accuse the Aam Admi Party (AAP) of being the 'B team' of the Congress. A look at the BJP in the state and you will realize that a large number of its leaders here are political turncoats who have switched sides ahead of the polls. In the 2009 assembly elections, the saffron outfit won just 4 seats. In other words, it was one of the many minor players in Haryana. However, the elevation of former Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as the outfit's Prime Ministerial candidate changed the fortunes of the party. Of the seven seats that the saffronists won here in May this year, at least three including Ro Inderjit Singh (Rewari) and Dharambir Singh (Bhiwani) had changed sides just before the polls. The number of leaders from other parties joining the BJP has only increased post the NDA's spectacular victory. However, the big question is whether the party has a strong face in the state who can get them the votes, especially after the split in the alliance with HJC's Kuldeep Bishnoi. Also, in case the BJP wins the polls, who will head the next regime in the state. Besides, like with the Congress, it is likely that the party splits into several camps, each headed by one of these newly joined leaders, thereby making ticket distribution a difficult process.

3. The Race for the Third Spot: With the two national parties battling it out for the top two spots, it remains to be seen who will finish third in the Haryana state polls. If the election throws up a hung assembly, like in 2009, the regional player with the highest seats could dictate terms. Probably, the strongest contender is the Chautala led INLD. In spite of the fact that its supremo is behind the bars, the Lok Dal is seeing a surge; it won two seats in the last parliamentary polls with its leader Dushyant beating the HJC chief. That brings us to Kuldeep Bishnoi, the son of former state CM Bhajan Lal who has broken off all ties with the BJP after it refused to keep its word on a 45:45 seat arrangement made prior to the Lok Sabha 2014. Although it lost both of the parliamentary seats it contest in May this year, Bishnoi continues to remain popular. In a recent poll, he was voted as the second most popular CM candidate. Moreover, he has joined hands with Venod Sharma's Jan Chetna Party (JCP). Former state home minister Gopal Kanda of the HLC too is eyeing this third spot. The BSP is seen by many as a strong contender and is expected to do well, especially in areas where there is a sizable Dalit population.

4. Did AAP make the right decision? The Aam Admi Party (AAP) which was born out of the Anna Hazare led anti-corruption crusade finds itself in a big mess thanks to a host of blunders by its top leadership. After storming Delhi, Kejriwal's decision to resign from the government following its failure to pass the Lokpal Bill after being in power for just 49 days was seen by many as an act of cowardice. Instead of concentrating on some key seats in the Lok Sabha, the AAP nominated candidates in most of the seats through out the country only managed to win just 4. Moreover, differences in opinion amongst top leaders has further put question marks over the future of the outfit. At this juncture, I think AAP's decision of not contesting the Haryana state polls is a blunder. Kejriwal led party has a good presence both in neighboring Punjab and in Delhi. As such, there are high chances that AAP may do well here. Also, corruption is a big issue in the state polls and the outfit could have used this as an opportunity to grab a few seats.


For more posts on the Haryana 2014 State Elections, click here (Link)