Till the reports came in last, it looks like there is going to be a hung assembly in the state of Haryana. Many poll pundits who had predicted a clean sweep for BJP have been proven wrong as the contest seems to be going down to the wire. With BJP facing stiff competition, the party high-command has already summoned Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to New Delhi. Unlike Maharashtra, where BJP looks to return for a second term (though it has lost seats there too), the trends in Haryana are fluctuating.
As per trends, BJP is leading on 38 seats, with the Congress continuously breathing down its neck and is ahead on 33 seats. Dushyant Chautala’s JJP is leading in 9 seats and is slowly emerging as the kingmaker in case neither BJP nor Congress manages a comfortable majority. JJP leader has already given indication that he will be looking to align with any party that gives his party the Chief Minister’s post. The Jat vote that might have gone to the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) is clearly going to the JJP, which split from the INLD last December. If the JJP ends up with more than 10 seats and the BJP falls short of magical 46 mark to win the election, Chautala may call the shots and his MLAs might prove decisive.
While the BJP was upbeat in the run-up to the elections where it was confident of breaching the 75 seat mark, the trends up until now have proved if nothing but one thing that this is indeed a wake-up call for BJP which needs to pull up its socks and get off its high horse. The results prove that in politics it is not over till the votes have been polled and the results declared. The Delhi assembly election has previously shown that nobody can take people for granted in a democracy and now the Haryana elections paint a similar story The close competition in Haryana is partly because BJP did not have a clear cut strategy. It did not use its Star-pracharks wisely and despite having done the hard yards on the ground, it seems like it could not strike a chord with the voters. The translation of Khattar’s vision with the voters could not happen and that is one of the major reasons why BJP is playing catch-up. BJP’s dream run in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections where it won a whopping 282 seats was largely built on Narendra Modi’s gargantuan image.
The Haryana election shows that India’s diversity serves as a political safety cover. With different states having different social nuances, no single formula works everywhere and this enigma keeps political parties on their toes. With the Delhi assembly elections due next year, BJP needs to get its house in order. To rival a tough competitor like Arvind Kejriwal, there needs to be a proper CM face from the saffron party. With Delhi Assembly polls not far away, the BJP still doesn’t have a CM face. In the run up to the last assembly election, the BJP put up Kiran Bedi as the party CM face, however, it did not go down well with the voters as Kiran Bedi didn’t have mass popularity unlike Arvind Kejriwal. Moreover, Kiran Bedi didn’t have the full support of the party workers.
It was Aam Aadmi Party in 2015 that had handed BJP it’s first drubbing after the dream run of 2014 in both national and state elections. BJP was humbled right under its nose, fair and square. Essentially, it all boils down to staying in the present and focusing on the task in hand, something which BJP took for granted this time around. Therefore, BJP needs to buckle up if it aims for any turnaround in fortunes in the Delhi assembly elections. Delhi might not be a big state, but in terms of optics, losing it could mean serious implications for the BJP.