The results of Haryana and Maharashtra elections are out. NDA is going to form government in both the states. While the BJP and Shiv Sena will form the government together in Maharashtra, in Haryana, the BJP is going to form the government with the support of independent MLAs. BJP lost seven seats in Haryana as compared to the previous assembly election. At one time it seemed that Haryana may even slip from the BJP’s hands.
Haryana became a last-minute thriller for the BJP and it’s the same state that gave the party 10 out of 10 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The reason for this is ‘Jat’ vote. Whereas in the last assembly election, the Jat votes were divided in half between the INLD and the Congress, this time the votes of the Jat community was strategic and pre-determined and its effect can be seen in the decline in BJP’s seats. While Devendra Fadnavis managed to pacify Maratha outrage to some extent in Maharashtra, Khattar failed to appease the Jat community. The politics of Haryana has always been dominated by the Jat community. Most of the Chief Ministers of the state have also come from this community, in such a situation, Khattar becoming Chief Minister was never going to be welcomed by the Jat community. To worsen it further, the topic of Jat reservation kept Khattar perplexed right till the end.
Jats constitute about 25 percent of the population of Haryana. This community dominates agriculture and land related businesses. Jats are a socially and politically affluent community and they have a major stake in the political discourse of the state, so it is only natural that the community would have liked to elect one of its own for the top chair. Khattar hails from the Punjabi Khatri community and he was unofficially the chief minister candidate this time too. But a small strategic change could have saved the BJP from slipping in the state. One of the most powerful Jat faces of the BJP is Captain Abhimanyu who hails from the state of Haryana. Although Captain Abhimanyu lost his seat because of strategic voting, but if he were to be used as a possible Deputy Chief Minister candidate in the election, the picture would have been different.
Although the post of Deputy Chief Minister is an ‘honorary’ post, but the message that goes to the society or to certain sections of it is often very powerful. To elucidate this, I present two examples. one from state politics and the other from national politics. When the BJP won a landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, the picture around the Chief Minister was not clear. The BJP then proceeded with the equation of one Chief Minister and two Deputy Chief Ministers. While Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath comes from Rajput community, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma comes from the Brahmin community and Keshav Prasad Maurya from the OBC community. With this masterstroke, BJP President Amit Shah not only saved any internal strife from happening in UP but also proved that he understands the caste equations of Uttar Pradesh well. The other example is that of Lal Krishna Advani. Vajpayee ji made Lal Krishna Advani his Deputy Prime Minister because he knew well that while he was popular among the public, Advani was very dear to the party cadre.
From these examples, it is pretty clear that if the “Deputy” posts are used wisely, then both the public and the workers can be appeased. Had Captain Abhimanyu been projected as a possible deputy chief minister, Jat community would have got the message that they were not being ignored. Captain Abhimanyu could have proved to be a Brahmastra for the BJP but it did not happen. There are still many elections to go in many states, and the future president of BJP Jagat Prakash Nadda will have the responsibility to solve these complex caste equations, now it remains to be seen whether he will be successful in doing this or not?