As estimated, Haryana polls outcome followed the predicted line. BJP had emerged as the single largest party in the State, proving the exit poll forecasts right. From just 4 Assembly seats in 2009, to 47 in 2014, it’s a huge achievement, for the party.
There is no doubt about the fact also that, this could not happen without the astute planning and execution of Amit Shah and his capable team, who worked for months to get this happen. Obviously it has never happened overnight or not any sudden upsurge or euphoria. The wave was meticulously created, months ahead, even before the poll was announced.
Precisely, once the party won 7 out of 8 seats it had contested in Haryana in the recent Lok Sabha elections, BJP set its sights on the Haryana Assembly polls, quite immediately and set up its team under the master strategist, now Party President, Amit Shah, to manoeuvre the crucial campaign.
While Amit Shah worked on the ground, keeping close contact with the party workers and leadership in the State, in tandem with the party’s experienced poll strategists, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stride of a highly enthusiastic campaign, crossing the length and breadth of the State, which ultimately brought an unprecedented win for the party in the vital north Indian State.
A Big Win
Winning 47 seats in an Assembly of 90, raising it from just 4, in a span of 5 years is a big feat, by any measure. The matter of the fact is that, BJP’s win in Haryana just cannot be measured alone by the number of seats it has won, but by the winning margins in most of the won constituencies.
BJP had won 47 seats in the State, at the same time, it had also clinched the number two position in as many as 17 seats. The winning margins in 4 of these 17 seats were less than 2,000 votes and in one constituency, Ratia (SC) the margin was , as low as 453 votes! BJP has won 32 of its 47 seats with a victory margin of over 10,000 votes or more. In 28 seats of these 32 seats, the winning margin is often 10% or more.
In the urbanised Gurgaon constituency, adjacent to the National Capital, the party had got the highest winning margin of 84,095 votes. BJP candidate Umesh Aggarwal had defeated his Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) contestant Gopi Chand Gahlot, hands down.
The other constituencies where the BJP won with big margins, are Karnal (63,773), Panipat City (53,721), Ballabhgarh (53,098), Ateli (48,601), Faridabad (44,781), Panchkula (44,602), Pataudi SC (38,963) and Panipat Rural (36,132).
Without any doubt, this achievement was unprecedented for a party, which had never ever contested so many seats in Haryana! Always played a second fiddle to parties like INLD, all these years. BJP was contesting all the seats in the State for the first time in its electoral history!
As per the vote share,BJP has got of 33.2% of the votes this time, compared to just 9.04% in the Assembly elections of 2009!
This was in the background that most of the constituencies had seen powerful four-cornered contests with INLD, Congress and Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) fighting at full throttle.
The vote shares of other parties are nowhere near BJP, this time.INLD came second, with 24.1% of votes. Followed by Congress with 20.6%. And, the independent candidates had around 10% of votes in share, in this election.
The Indian National Congress(INC), which had ruled the State, for last 10 years had seen its vote percentage dipping from 35.12 per cent to 20.6 percent in this election.
INLD , though has emerged as the main opposition party in the Haryana Assembly, securing 19 seats, got 24.1 percent vote share, 2.5 percent lesser than last time. Also it had lost 12 seats, compared to its 2009 performance.
Facing the BJP juggernaut, the number of Independent candidates too fallen down in this election with only 5 of them winning this time as compared to 7 such winners in the 2009 polls. The vote percentage of the Independent candidates has also decreased from 13.6 percent to 10.6 percent.
BJP’s former ally and Kuldeep Bishnoi led Haryana Janhit Congress had also hit the dust. It could manage only 2 seats this time, against the six it had won the last time. Its vote share has gone down from 7.68% in 2009 to just 3.6%.
What Helped the BJP
BJP’s dramatic surge in vote share, raising its tally from 4 to 47 in the 90-member Assembly, has brought the party into power, for the first time, in the State. More than 41 lakh voters voted for the party.
With a whopping 24 percent growth in its vote share, BJP is no more dependent on any other party in the State, in which it was a fringe player over all these years!
BJP’s vote share rocketed to 33.2 percent from a meagre 9.05 percent in the last Assembly polls in 2009, bringing a dramatic victory for the saffron party. Not just Congress, to powerful regional party in Haryana, the INLD that has finished a poor second, this time.
The poll outcome seems a continuation of the results of the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May this year, which had seen BJP clinching 7 out of the 10 Parliamentary seats in the State, leaving just 2 for INLD and 1 for Congress. Congress, which had won 9 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 Parliament election , could win then only the Rohtak seat, the constituency of the Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda‘s son Dipender Hooda.
The Modi wave, about which, the political pundits have predicted a natural decline, after the bypolls in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, has proven wrong and definitely worked in favour of BJP in Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly elections, this time. Like Maharashtra, this time Narendra Modi was the main campaigner for BJP in Haryana. Despite his busy schedule and frequent foreign trips, Modi had held 11 election rallies, in a smaller State like Haryana.
It’s due to his popularity and enthusiastic campaigning, Haryana had registered a record-breaking turnout figure, with the polling percentage reaching all-time high of 75.9%. This ultimately helped BJP in turn to gain more votes, annulling the proposition that the Lok Sabha results were an aberration and that the Modi wave had already waned!
In 2009 Assembly Polls, when BJP could not find an ally, getting 90 candidates was a herculean task for the party. The result, a mere 4 seats was a deterrent for a similar exertion. But this time BJP was more than confident due to its Lok Sabha performance. The party simply told Kuldip Bishnoi to settle for 25 seats and called off the talks when the Haryana Janhit Congress persisted on a 50:50 share of seats, added with the Chief Ministership, as the condition to continue the Lok Sabha alliance. Bishnoi’s party lost both the Lok Sabha seats it contested.
BJP told Bishnoi in unequivocal terms that his demands were disproportionate to his party’s strength as came out during the Parliament elections! This new gained confidence of the party saved it from playing the second fiddle and helped in winning the largest number of seats.
At the same time, the party’s division in the State on Caste Lines, Regionalism and Factionalism was prevented to a large extent . The party denied all factional considerations and personal clouts in the distribution of poll tickets. Strict adherence to electability was decisive for Haryana candidates this time, because, in the past, collateral considerations played a big role in distribution of tickets and harmed the party perennially.
Shah’s Magic Runs in
Once, the BJP won 7 seats out of 8 it had contested in Haryana in the Lok Sabha elections, the party promptly set its sights on the forthcoming Haryana Assembly polls and put its master strategist Amit Shah on duty, to strategise and manoeuvre the poll campaign. He strategised a stupendous victory for BJP, in Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha elections in May this year, about which I have written in details, earlier.
Immediately, Shah took hold of the campaign, held meetings with the grass root workers, party’s regionwise satraps, held meetings with other allies and held long considerations on the selection of candidates. He also successfully managed all the election rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Haryana.
Despite political pressures to rope in the Haryana Janhit Congress as an electoral ally, the party never doubted his intention when his holding the ground resulted in snapping ties with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), after it’s Chief, Kuldeep Bishnoi did not reach any agreement to review the seat-sharing formula and relinquish his Chief Ministerial aspiration.
The BJP also sniffed the air of Haryana voters’ strong antipathy against corruption, predominant in Haryana politics and suppressed buzzes about a possible tie-up with the INLD, post-elections. Modi in his election campaign had repeatedly avowed that the BJP had nothing to do with those behind the bars!
For the very beginning, Shah tried to project BJP as the Corruption-free party, based on ideology of patriotism, chose to have the party fight it out on its own, as he had successfully felt a huge upsurge against corruption in the State of legendary Aya Rams and Gaya Rams.
He intensely discussed with senior BJP leaders of the State and the Centre, including Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and debated each Haryana Assembly seat and the candidature before announcing tickets.
His fast acquired knowledge of Haryana constituencies and its voters and their expectations played a major role. When the BJP Parliamentary Board discussed the merits and demerits of prospective Haryana Chief Ministerial candidates for hours, it was Shah who forcefully succeeded in pursuing with, Manohar Lal Khattar’s nomination, despite the fact that Khattar belongs to the Punjabi community.
Shah was also given responsibility and discretionary power, to check the bickering tendencies among local leaders in staking claim for the CM’s post.
Amit Shah tried his best to use the Modi magic. Modi made himself available, despite his busy schedule and addressed 11 meetings in the span of just a few weeks. He set the tone and tenor of the campaign, raising the Robert Vadra issue to the fore, the dubious land deals and other corruption issues and trashed CM Hooda’s development claims.
The election campaign was aptly planned, and no leader was projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate. At Jind, veteran Congress leader Birender Singh was taken into the party fold with much fanfare. Even it was hinted that Singh was a probable choice as the Chief Minister! But when the tickets were allotted, Singh’s name went missing, instead, his wife was made the party candidate. Amit Shah knew that, promoting Singh would not go well, with the moral and spirit of the long-time party workers.
Another Jat leader Captain Abhimanyu too was expecting to be a contender for the top post. But Shah was perhaps certain that Haryana would have a non Jat leader at the top post, this time.
BJP was contesting the 90 seats alone in the State, for the first time. It was a political compulsion but BJP neither had the organisational backing, nor enough winnable party candidates or enough party workers to campaign for all 90 seats.
So Shah’s first strategy was to bring dissatisfied leaders from other parties, mainly Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal, who had sizable support base, and allotting them instant BJP tickets. His strategy had clicked well in time . And, it’s no surprise that, among the 47 BJP candidates who won, 17 had newly joined BJP, from the other parties. To fill the existing blank of party workers with experience of running successful election campaigns, a large number of trained BJP workers were brought to Haryana from the states like Delhi, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The person in-charge of elections in the state in Shah’s team was Kailash Vijayavargiya, a senior Minister in the Madhya Pradesh Government and a RSS veteran.
He had not only brought with him, years of organisational experience, but also a large number of party workers and leaders from Madhya Pradesh.
It was Vijayvargiya himself, who had met Dera Sacha Sauda’s controversial head, Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim and ultimately able to secure the support of the Dera, with its chunk of Dalit votes, which undoubtedly made difference to its electoral fortune.
Apart from Madhya Pradesh, MPs and MLAs from Himachal Pradesh ,Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh were also stationed in Haryana . They were give charge of each of the 90 Assembly seats and 22 districts. They had to submit their daily reports, which were ultimately assessed by Amit Shah..
The Umbilical Chord
Like the Lok Sabha elections in UP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) also activated its powerful network in Haryana.
BJP Secretary Anil Jain was the other companion of Shah in Haryana. He used his RSS connection, to coordinate with the Sangh’s organisation, successfully.
There were other RSS adherents in Shah’s Haryana team. BJP’s Joint General Secretary (Organisation), Shiv Prakash was from the RSS, so was Ram Lal.
The Swayamsewaks were given the task of mobilising workers for every block and booth level. On the Election Day, they were to bring voters in maximum numbers, to the booths.
Beyond the Jat Bastion Shah was aware of the clout of the Jats in the State and the popularity of INLD among them. BJP’s non Jat leaning was also well known. Also, the Congress CM Hooda himself is a Jat and invoked Jat pride on occasions. So, despite doubts about their assured winability,BJP had to give 25 tickets to the Jat candidates.
Jat leaders Chaudhary Virendra Singh, Captain Abhimanyu and Om Prakash Dhankad were assigned to convince the influential community in the State, which has a solid voteshare of about 22 per cent.
Despite tough competition from INLD and Congress, 6 of its Jat candidates won.
There were 48 non-Jat candidates from the party. And, 41 of them won.
Traditionally, BJP was strong in the north Haryana. But Sirsa, the fiefdom of the Chautalas was its Achilles’ heel. It was also not sure about Jhajjar and Rohtak. It’s success was mostly assured in south Haryana and in the urban areas in and around NCR.
The party had identified Assembly seats where the margin was likely to be less than 5000 votes. Party workers were given directives to assure that at least 5000 additional votes were cast in each of these constituencies.
The State BJP, under guidance of Amit Shah had also hired around 100 buses equipped with audio visual publicity arrangement. PM Modi’s various Speeches, specially during the huge gatherings in the USA were video-publicised extensively.
Amit Shah’s astute poll strategy and the Modi magic worked well in Haryana, except perhaps the Sirsa district. In Sirsa too, BJP snatched one seat, Tohana, from the Chautalas.
The non Jat image of BJP helped it to consolidate its votes from the other communities. In its winners list of 47, apart from 6 Jat candidates, there are 8 Punjabi, 7 Vaishyas, 6 Yadavs, 4 Brahmins, 2 Sainis and 1 Sikh. Among the 17 Reserved SC seats, BJP had won 9.
The party had won seats in almost all parts of the State. And, it was a rare feat for any party in Haryana.
By: Deep Basu