Choice wide open, players aplenty

Sushil Manav

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10

It was in February 2017 that the INLD, the main Opposition party, launched a stir on the contentious SYL issue with an eye on the 2019 parliamentary and Assembly polls. Almost 10 months after Leader of the Opposition Abhay Singh Chautala’s bid to “dig” the canal near the Shambhu border on the Amritsar–Delhi highway, former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda launched “Jankranti Rath Yatra”.

Thereafter, a plethora of players threw their hat in the ring. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was the first to enter the contest. Buoyed with the party’s impressive showing in Punjab, with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced  in March 2018 that his party would fight the polls in Haryana.

In September that year, rebel BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini, who has made inroads into BC and OBC votes with his unabated outbursts against Jats’ quota demand, launched the Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP), announcing his decision to contest the 2019 polls. But it’s Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) that could be the game changer in Haryana politics.

A rift in the Chautala clan was wide open after INLD’s state-level rally at Gohana on October 7 last year where Dushyant’s supporters allegedly heckled his uncle Abhay Chautala and grandfather Om Prakash Chautala. It eventually ended in a split in the INLD and the launching of the JJP. The two-month-old nascent party has emerged a serious player after the Jind bypoll. It’s candidate, Dushyant’s younger brother Digvijay was the runners-up. Polling more than 37,000 votes, he bagged a lion’s share of Jat votes.

Going by the Jind bypoll results, there is complete polarisation between Jats and non-Jats. Hence, it will be difficult for a non-Jat party to transfer its votes to a party led by a Jat leader, and vice versa.

In Jind, neither INLD’s ally BSP could transfer its votes to the INLD candidate Umed Redhu, nor could AAP transfer its votes to JJP’s Digvijay.  This and INLD’s poor showing prompted Mayawati to snap ties with the INLD, despite her “rakhi” ties with Abhay Chautala. She has now forged an alliance with Saini’s LSP.

The SAD too has entered the poll arena. Eyeing Sikh and Jat votes, SAD president Sukhbir Badal, at a rally in Ambala, promised free power to Haryana farmers.The Haryana Janchetna Party led by former Union Minister Venod Sharma too will be fielding its candidates. The buzz is the LSP-BSP coalition is in touch with Sharma for a bigger pact. More alliances are expected in the coming days. Clearly, Haryana voters are spoilt for choice.