Chandigarh, Aug 4 (IANS) The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haryana seems confident of winning the next Assembly elections, likely in October, on the basis of its performance and also because the most opposition parties in the state are in disarray.
While the main opposition — the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) — has been reduced to a minority as most of its legislators and leaders have joined the BJP, infighting continues to dog the Congress, which ruled the state for two consecutive terms till 2014.
In the absence of any political direction and agenda, the Congress workers are a disillusioned lot.
“We are definitely going to form the next government and that too with an impressive victory. Our target is to win 75 plus seats in the 90-member Assembly,” Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar told IANS.
His slogan ‘Mission 75’ has got louder after the party’s stellar performance in the last Lok Sabha elections, where the BJP won all the 10 seats — a first in state’s electoral history.
The first BJP Chief Minister of the state, which was formed on November 1, 1966, aims at improving the party’s tally in the Assembly from 48 legislators.
In an obvious reference to the faction-ridden Congress and the mass exodus of leaders from the jailed O.P. Chautala-led INLD, which also witnessed a vertical split last year following a family feud, Khattar said on the basis of development, the BJP would fulfil its resolution of ’75 plus seats’ in the Assembly elections.
However, two-time Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who along with his son Deepender Hooda lost the recent Lok Sabha polls, described Khattar’s dispensation as a “government of scams”.”The government is talking too much of transparency. In reality, the ministers are good in committing frauds,” he said.
According to him, the BJP would forget its ‘Mission 75’ after his August 18 rally in Rohtak. “The political situation will change after my rally,” said Hooda, who is facing a money laundering case relating to the Manesar land grab.
The Congress, which now has 14 legislators after Rai legislator Jai Tirath Dhaiya submitted his resignation from the Assembly on August 1, has been on a downhill journey since its 2014 rout in the state.
Interestingly, the Congress for the first time on August 2 occupied the benches marked for the main opposition party on the first day of the three-day Assembly session with Kiran Choudhary occupying the seat of Leader of Opposition, but without the consent of Speaker Kanwar Pal Gujjar.
Choudhary used the seat that was earlier occupied by INLD’s Abhay Chautala.
Gujjar said the status could be extended to someone only after all legislators of a party had passed a resolution declaring that a particular member was their leader in the Assembly. He said he didn’t get any resolution from the Congress in this regard.
As the term of the Assembly would expire in October and this was the last session, the status of Leader of Opposition was now irrelevant, a former Congress minister told IANS.
“Infighting in the INLD and the Congress may help the BJP overcome the obstacle created by farm distress and lack of jobs,” a political observer told IANS.
With six INLD legislators switching loyalties to the BJP and two dead, the party that had won 19 seats is literally a ‘sinking ship’.
The latest exit was of Ravinder Baliala from Ratia, who joined the BJP on August 1. Another INLD legislator Naseem Ahmad is said to have joined the Congress.
Four of the INLD legislators, led by Naina Chautala, will try their luck as candidates of the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), a breakaway INLD faction.
In the October 2014 polls, the BJP improved its 2009 tally of four to 47, followed by the INLD with 19 legislators and the Congress coming third with 15 seats. Two seats went to the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), and one each to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Five independent candidates were also elected.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)