BJP Chances in Haryana – an Appraisal
A short history of BJP in Haryana:
The BJP, until 911, was contesting mostly in alliance with the other Janata Party constituents, particularly the Lok Dal. Both in 1982, and 1987, the BJP fought elections alongside the Lok Dal of Chaudhary Devi Lal. For the first time, in 1991, the BJP was forced to fight elections on its own in Haryana, and secured only around 9.5% of the vote and 2 of the 90 seats in the Assembly. Its performance in the Lok Sabha was a bit better, and it secured 10.17%. The BJP, afterwards, however, abandoned its independence, gave up all hopes of growing further on its own, and allied in 96 and 98 with Bansi Lal’s Haryana Vikas Party (HVP), dumped HVP in 99, and joined O P Chauthala’s INLD. Only in 2004, when the alliance with Chauthala’s INLD fell apart, did the BJP go back to fighting the election on its own. Unsurprisingly, in the 2004 election, the BJP was wiped out except for one single seat – Kishan Singh Sangwan in Sonepat. Its performance, in vote share terms, was a bit better, and it won 17.21% of the popular vote. However, the party fall back to its inertia, kept going in alliance with INLD and never grew on its own. Only in 2009, when both the BJP and the INLD were wiped out by the pro-Congress wave in Haryana (even its only MP, Kishan Singh Sangwan, was routed in Sonepat) did the party finally slowly shake off the two decade old lethargy. It contested the election on its own in 2009 Assembly elections, but went back to its usual performance of 9.05% of the votes. This seems to be a constant for the BJP – a vote share of about 10% in the Assembly elections, and a higher share of around 15% or so in the Lok Sabha elections, irrespective of any other factors.
Generally, in the last ten years, the elections in Haryana have been direct fights between the Congress and the INLD, with the other parties (principally, the BJP, the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) and the BSP) playing smaller, often only spoiler roles. Generally, Haryana politics, since the 80s, centred around the three Lals – Bhajan Lal, Bansi Lal, and Devi Lal. However, all three have passed out of the world, although their families continue to have a strong impact on the politics. The Hooda led Congress has changed considerably from the Bhajan Lal led Congress, and has been ruling the state for the last ten years. However, the whole scenario has changed in the current elections. The main changes will be enumerated below
1) The Hooda led Congress has faced a series of rebellions, resulting in a number of defections at the mid level, in particular, to the BJP, HJC and the AAP. Prominent defectors include Venod Sharma, MLA from Ambala city (he has quit the Congress, and is said to be keen on joining the HJC, but the plans have been stalled due to the strong opposition of Sushma Swaraj, with whom the HJC has an alliance), Dharamveer Singh, MLA from Sohna who has joined BJP, and Rao Inderjit Singh, MP from Gurgaon who has joined BJP. Even other senior leaders from the Congress like Selja (MP from Ambala) and Sampat Singh (MLA from Nalwa) are said to be angry with Hooda and are sulking. In addition to these problems, the Hooda government has been accused of a number of land scams, in conjunction with Robert Vadra, son-in-law of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi.
2) The arrival of the AAP has introduced an unknown variable to the Haryana politics. The AAP, after a stunning performance in neighbouring Delhi, has entered Haryana politics with great enthusiasm. Two of the senior most AAP leaders, Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, belong to Haryana and they are focussing on the state with great zeal. The AAP had initially (in December-January) entered the scene with great hopes of replicating its Delhi performance in Haryana, but some of the aura around the party seems to be dimming with a spate of unsavoury incidents hounding the party. Nevertheless, it is expected to put in a good performance according to several opinion polls (see below).
3) The INLD has also weakened considerably from its usual strength, although the party seems to be finding some hope in Dushyant Chauthala, a great grandson of the legendary Chaudhary Devi Lal. The conviction of Om Prakash Chauthala and his son Ajay Chauthala in a teacher recruitment scam, and their sentencing to ten years rigorous imprisonment has, nevertheless, cast a shadow on the party’s hopes.
Traditional Voting Patterns:
Haryana politics centres around a three major factors, viz, farmers issues, Jats vs others, and finally, corruption. Farmers form a large part of Haryana’s electorate and various sops like free water, and power, to woo the farmers are as old as the state itself. Haryana centres around Jat politics. About a quarter of the state’s populace is Jat, and consequently, Jat politics dominate the state. Further, during the earlier Congress times, it became a game of Jats vs the others, with the Congress representing the hopes of the others. This has changed a lot with the advent of the present Congress CM, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, a Jat himself, who has brought the Congress into the game of wooing the Jats, and biting into their votes. Finally, corruption is a perpetual factor in Haryana politics. With the sole honourable exception of Bansi Lal2, every other CM of Haryana (and most ministers) has been accused of corruption. Of course, nepotism is so common as to be a matter of pride rather than of shame. All CMs have introduced their own dynasties. With that said, we shall examine the traditional voting patterns for the parties, currently in existence.
The Congress, for a long time, represented the hopes of the `others’ in the Jats vs others issues. Of course, even the Congress had its share of Jat leaders from the state, but the Jats were among the earliest rebels against the Congress (mainly via leaders who rebelled from the Congress), and have been the mainstay of the opposition parties (both the Haryana Vikas Party and the Indian National Lok Dal). However, the Congress depended, to a large extent on the OBCs and Dalits for its votes. It had a fraction of the votes of the upper castes, the educated middle class that had benefited from Congress rule, and finally, by throwing sops at farmers, got a chunk of the farmer vote as well. However, as mentioned earlier, under CM Hooda, a good chunk of the Jats have returned to the party particularly in the Sonepat-Rohtak region. The absorption of the Bansi Lal clan inside the Congress has further cemented the party’s reconciliation with the Jats. In short, the Congress takes its votes from most segments of the state’s population. This is further supplemented by the presence of a strong Congress leadership across the state and cadre in the entire state that is capable of turning around the fortunes of the party in any election on its own, even against the odds.
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD):
This party is led by the Devi Lal-Chauthala clan and functions, more or less, as a family run enterprise. Having ruled the state several times, the clan traditionally gets its votes from two segments where it is very strong, the Jats and the farmers. It must be emphasised that these two are not mutually exclusive sets, but the mainstay of the INLD is the rural vote. The INLD also draws strength from the rural labourers, who are often persuaded by the richer farmers, to vote for the party. The party has an excellent cadre, and while its leadership is not as diverse as the Congress, or the cadre as strong, the INLD cadre strength is nevertheless extremely impressive. The party also has good local leadership, although some of it is beginning to fray around the edges.
Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC):
This party is also a family run enterprise, this time run by the family of Bhajan Lal. Bhajan Lal was the first Backward Caste leader to make it big in Haryana, and he represented the hopes of the others in the `Jats vs the others’ politics of Haryana. The mainstay of the HJC are the OBCs, particularly in the centre and west of the state, which were Bhajan Lal’s stomping grounds. The party has a decent cadre, and local leadership in parts of the state.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP):
The BJP has a small, but secure traditional vote share in the state. The BJP’s draws its support mainly from the urban middle class, the educated class, and the upper castes in the rural belt in the state. The BJP leadership, until recently, was unimpressive with its tallest leader from the state, Sushma Swaraj choosing to desert the state for Delhi politics. The cadre strength of the party was mediocre at best, and was particularly weak in many rural areas. The party can, when the issues converge, depend on the RSS to bolster its cadre strength, and give the party a leg up in party work. Further, the party has grown absorbing several dissident Congressmen and independents, providing it with a more reasonable local leadership.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP):
The BSP traditionally drew its strength from the Dalits, the rural poor and other marginalised segments of the society. They are a cadre based party and had good local leaders at one time, but with excessive focus on Uttar Pradesh by the party head, Mayawati, the BSP may be looking a little jaded in Haryana.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP):
This is the wild card. They had generated a lot of enthusiasm in December-January with their stunning performance in the Delhi polls, and had grown greatly, drawing recruits from all segments of the society, particularly urban, in Haryana. However, much of that initial enthusiasm has evaporated with unsavoury incidents haunting the party. Their local leadership remains uncertain.
We shall examine what the various opinion polls say about the state. A word on my methodology. I do not believe in seat forecasts, which are based on translating vote shares into seats. The algorithm cannot take into account the various factors in the different constituencies, or the variations. 3% of the vote may translate into a seat, while 15% may give no seat. Consequently, I shall be examining only the vote shares (which surveys generally tend to get correctly), and then we shall try to factor what is happening across the various constituencies. All vote shares are shown in percentages.
LokNiti-IBN (Vote shares shown on 23/01/2014 – surveys were conducted in early January) 
Cong 42 34
INLD 16 15
HJC 10 _
BJP 12 20
BSP 16 4
AAP 0 17
The second survey, conducted by Cvoter in early January and published by India Today  on 17/01/2014 gives the following vote shares.
Cong. 42 18
INLD 16 9
HJC+BJP 22 35
BSP 16 5
AAP 0 21
Nielsen has not released detailed statewise surveys to the extent I need, so I am ignoring it. IBTL has not released vote shares for Haryana at all, so I am ignoring that as well.
Now, the two surveys show considerable disparity, which I have no way to resolve directly. Consequently, I will do two things.
1) CSDS did not release the vote share of the HJC, they merely released the vote share of the HJC in the `Others category’ which is expected go garner a share of 10%. In the `Others’ category in General Elections 2009, the share was 4% excluding the HJC. I shall assume that the `Others’ will retain that 4% in 2014 as well, so I am giving the HJC a share of 6%, which is quite feasible. With the death of Bhajan Lal, the party may have lost about 3-4% of the vote.
2) To resolve the disparity between the two opinion polls, I shall take the arithmetic mean of the two opinion polls as a basis for judging the opinions in the state. Both surveys agree on three points, viz, the Congress is losing a considerable part of its vote share, the HJC+BJP is gaining vote share, the BSP is coming down to around 5% of the vote, which is what it had in 2004, and finally, the AAP has made a considerable impact getting 17-21% of the vote share in Haryana. The AAP has possibly lost some vote after the Delhi fiasco and the various antics of its leaders, but I prefer to keep to the quantifiable knowledge. With that basis, let us look at what the mean between the two opinion polls says for 2014
Given these vote shares, let us try to translate what they mean for the various constituencies. Further, I have taken the votes of the last Assembly elections as a baseline. The reason why I did not pick 2009 LS election results is because the BJP had contested in alliance with the iNLD, so it is impossible to tell apart the votes of the two. The Assembly elections set a kind of a baseline for the Congress and the BJP, since the BJP performance is usually much better in Lok Sabha elections than in Assembly elections. I shall also look at the performance of the BJP in the From that baseline, we shall see what the swing means for the BJP.
Cong- Raj Kumar Balmiki, BJP – former MP and HPSC chairman, Rattan Lal Kataria, INLD – Party General Secretary’s Ashok Sherwal’s wife, Kusum Bala, AAP-Surinder Pal Singh
Past Performance, Numbers and Trends:
In the last Assembly poll, the Congress had won 36.% of the vote, the BJP-HJC combine had won 20.12% of the vote (BJP-17.59%, HJC-2.53%), BSP-13.52%, INLD-21.57% of the vote. This also agrees with the figures obtained by the BJP in the 2004 election, when it got 21.27% of the vote, and INLD got 15.45% of the vote, while the BSP got only 6.73%. The basic point is that the Congress had a rough base of around 35% vote, the BJP and the INLD have around 20% and 15-20% of the vote bank respectively, and the BSP vote depends heavily on the anti-establishment vote. In 2004, the anti-establishment vote of both Haryana and Centre went to the Congress, not the BSP, which is why the BSP did badly in 2004, but recovered greatly in 2009, getting 21.76% of the vote. The HJC is very weak here, getting 2.53% of the vote in Assembly, and 3.54% in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. There is a rough difference of 15% vote between the Congress and the BJP.
However, given that the Congress is suffering a huge swing away from it (8-24% depending on what source you want to believe), it is likely that the urban vote will swing towards the BJP, particularly in places like Panchkula, Ambala constituencies, and perhaps even Yamunanagar. Here the Congress share of the middle class is likely to plummet, and will move directly to the BJP, and perhaps the lower middle class vote, to the AAP (which may also get vote at the expense of the Congress collapse). If the Congress loses 8% of the vote, and the BJP gains 8% of the vote, it will be home and dry, and the opinion polls do suggest this happening. So, speaking from the numbers, this should be a seat the BJP can win. But there are, as always, other factors.
This is a constituency reserved for scheduled castes. Generally, this seat has featured a triangular fight between the Congress, BSP and the BJP, since the days of the legendary Suraj Bhan of the BJP. This time, if the BSP votebank has shifted en masse to the AAP, it could feature a triangular fight between the Congress, the BJP and the AAP. However, AAP candidate Surinder Pal Singh is facing serious dissidence from the party workers, who are protesting against him as he is an outsider. The amount of confidence had seems to inspire may well make it a straight fight between the Congress and the BJP. The Congress has run into some candidate selection problems. Kumari Selja is reportedly unwilling to contest from Ambala, as she has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha to placate Hooda. The Congress was considering Ashok Tanwar, but as he was reportedly unwilling too, the Congress has fielded Raj Kumar Balmiki from the seat. Furthermore, the Congress has suffered a hard blow in the recent times with the exit of the party MLA from Ambala city, Venod Sharma (a better introduction to him might be as the father of Manu Sharma, of the infamous Jessica Lal case). Nevertheless, Mr. Sharma who had bankrolled the victory of several Congress candidates has deserted the party, and is now singing paeans to the BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi. However, his attempts to join HJC seem to have suffered a hitch, with the senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj throwing a roadblock against it by protesting vociferously with the HJC leadership. To placate the BJP, the HJC is reportedly keeping Mr. Sharma at a distance. Mr. Sharma’s next moves might well decide the fate of the constituency. If Mr. Sharma returns to the Congress, or joins the INLD, the BJP may end up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The BJP candidate Rattan Lal Kataria has suffered two defeats at the hands of the Congress heavyweight Kumari Selja, and enjoys a mixed image at best. Nevertheless, he seems to be the party’s best candidate at the moment. The Congress has fielded a newcomer, Raj Kumar Balmiki. A hard fight seems in the offing between the Congress and the BJP, the balance is on a knife edge, and the tilt could go either way.
Verdict: Toss up, but with reasonable chances.
Update 1: Venod Sharma, having been rebuffed by the HJC, is now pouring vitriol on the BJP through the TV channel he controls, India News. While he has made no political moves yet, he is soured with the BJP-HJC alliance. How quickly things change in politics!
Cong – Congress heavyweight Naveen Jindal, BJP – former independent MLA, Rajkumar Saini, INLD – former Minister in Chauthala cabinet, Balbeer Saini, AAP – Balwinder Kaur.
Past Performance, Numbers and Trends:
In 2009 Assembly elections, the Congress had 31.65% and the INLD had 30.48% of the vote. The BSP had 8.6% of the vote, the BJP 7.61% and HJC 5.29% of the vote. The BJP had got 14.92% of the vote in 2004, but even then, the main fight in Kurukshetra was between the Congress and the INLD. The HJC has never done well in the Lok Sabha elections either, getting only 1.92% of the vote. Reading between the lines, the BJP has, at best a solid vote base of around 10%, and the HJC cannot contribute much either. Its vote share is no more than 3-5%. To win the elections here, the BJP needs a vote of around 35%, and thus needs a swing of around 20-25% vote due to the Modi wave. This constituency is a mixed rural semi-urban constituency, and NaMo wave may not have the same effect on the constituency as in others. In semi-urban areas like Thanesar, the BJP may be able to utilise the NaMo wave for a bit of growth, but in the purely rural areas, it is hard for the BJP to utilise the NaMo wave. The best the BJP can hope is to become the runner up, I would say, based on the numbers.
This is a seat where the BJP is usually weak, and their attempts to overcome their weakness with an imported independent, Rajkumar Saini, may not bear much fruit, as part of the BJP’s own workers have risen in revolt against his candidature. The INLD has dumped the old redoubtable Kailasho Devi and brought in Balbeer Saini. This seat is going to witness a fight between the INLD and the Congress. It is uncertain that Rajkumar Saini can fight off the two heavyweights to win the seat. This is also a seat where the BJP’s ally, the HJC cannot give it much support. Likely a fight between the Congress and the INLD, maybe a triangular fight if the Modi wave in the constituency is particularly intense.
Verdict: Difficult fight, but not impossible.
Cong – State party chief, Ashok Tanwar, HJC – former MP, Sushil Kumar Indora, INLD – defecting SAD MLA, Charanjit Singh, AAP – Poonam Chand Ratti.
Past Performance, Numbers, and Trends:
The performance of both the BJP and the HJC was nothing to write home about, and they won 2.91% and 3.82% of the vote respectively in the 2009 Assembly elections. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, HJC won only 4.65% of the vote, and the BJP performance in 2004 Lok Sabha elections was equally abysmal, winning 13.68% of the vote. The contest has always been between the Congress and the INLD, which won 41.51% and 33.51% of the vote respectively in 2004 Lok Sabha elections, and 35.25% and 40.38% of the vote respectively in the Assembly elections. The swing against the Congress is good news as far as Indora is concerned. He will benefit from it, but not solely, as even the INLD can, and likely will, benefit from it.
This is a seat where the BJP and the HJC are both weak historically, and the main fight has been between the Congress and the INLD. However, the contest has been torn open by the defection of the peripatetic Sushil Kumar Indora to the HJC, which is fielding him from the seat. However, he faces no easy task. Facing him is the redoubtable sitting MP, and the state Congress chief, Ashok Tanwar, who is looking to repeat his 2009 victory over the INLD, and is now looking to add Sushil Kumar Indora to his list of scalps. The INLD has fielded a Ramdassia Sikh, a defector from the SAD, Charanjit Singh, who had won the previous Assembly elections from Kalanwali. The Dalit Sikh vote is likely to go to Charanjit Singh, while Indora will be depending on his own base among the OBCs and Dalits. The Jat vote is likely to be split between the Congress and the INLD, and the OBCs are open for the taking. The upper caste Punjabi vote, which is the only thing that the BJP can contribute to Indora, will probably add to his vote bank. The remaining Sikhs, and OBCs will probably decide the fate of the constituency. All in all, despite the entry of the formidable Indora, the HJC may not find this constituency easy to take, since Indora is mostly on his own, with the parent HJC and the allied BJP able to contribute very little. A far better hope for Indora will be the expectation that the SAD can pitch in and help him get the Sikh vote in the region. Nevertheless, a hard, uphill fight for Indora remains in the offing.
Verdict: Difficult fight, but not impossible.
Cong – Nalwa MLA, former Revenue minister, Sampat Singh, HJC – HJC chief and sitting MP, Kuldeep Bishnoi, INLD – grandson of former CM, O P Chauthala, Dushyant Chauthala, AAP – Ashok Khemka’s replacement, and the man who cleared the Vadra files, Yudhbir Singh Khayalia.
Past Performance, Numbers and Trends:
This is Bhajan Lal’s seat, and he won 29.99% of the vote last time, winning over the INLD nominee, Sampat Singh by less than 1% of the vote (Sampat Singh polled 29.15% of the vote). The result in the bypoll was similar. The BJP won 6.14% of the vote here during the Assembly election 2009, and 8.41% in election General election 2004. The HJC on the other hand won 19.47% of the vote. Both the INLD and the Congress had higher vote shares of 27.18% and 38.02% of the votes respectively, but those vote shares are mere expressions of vote bases (also 2 seats were contested directly by the Chauthala clan members in Assembly 2009, so it artificially boosted their vote shares, while deprecating the vote share of HJC. The numbers indicate that the HJC, Congress and the INLD are the main contestants in the constituency, with the BJP and the BSP playing only a marginal role. The plummeting Congress vote share should be a cause for cheer for Kuldeep Bishnoi, but the danger is that the Congress vote, particularly the Jat vote, might migrate to the INLD, jeopardising his chances in the region. The Congress had always taken a share of the OBC vote in the area, this vote might come to Kuldeep Bishnoi. Nevertheless, a collapsing Congress vote is not all good news for the HJC. Far better that the Congress and the INLD split the Jat vote, leaving him home and dry with the votes of the others.
This is a seat where the HJC, INLD and the Congress are strong. In comparison, the BJP and the BSP are rather weak. The INLD had won the last Lok Sabha election narrowly, but given the Congress wave that swept away stalwarts like the Chauthala clan members, for Bhajan Lal to win on his own, even narrowly, was extraordinary. The feat was repeated by his son, Kuldeep Bishnoi, in the bypolls necessitated by the death of Bhajan Lal. Once more, Kuldeep Bishnoi is facing his old enemies, Sampat Singh (who has defected from the INLD to the Congress) and Dushyant Chauthala. This is a constituency where Bhajan Lal first perfected his `Everyone against Jats’ strategy, before repeating it on a larger scale in the entire state. In the coming elections, the Jat votes are likely to be split between Sampat Singh and Dushyant Chauthala, with the bulk of the votes going to Dushyant. Sampat Singh, according to local sources, is unlikely to do more damage than Jai Prakash (Congress candidate in previous elections) did to Dushyant Chauthala’s Jat vote share. However, many of the the Jats are very vocally in favour of the young Chauthala in many places, and may tip the rural Dalit vote in his favour. Further, the sentencing of the older Chauthalas is said to have generated a moderate sympathy wave in Dushyant’s favour. The impact of the AAP nominee, Yudhbir Singh Khayalia, the man who cleared the Vadra files, is unknown. But Hisar is Kejriwal’s home constituency, and he is said to have considerable influence in the region. Whose vote his candidate will steal is still open to question, but it may well be the BSP and possibly even Kuldeep Bishnoi’s OBC vote – the Jats are unlikely to be very impressed with Kejriwal. The BJP, as we have seen, cannot offer much comfort to Bishnoi, from its own vote base, except for a few upper caste votes, but the Modi wave will nevertheless also toss some of the fringe vote into his kitty. The OBCs, particularly the Bishnois, will back Kuldeep Bishnoi to the hilt, so he can count on their votes. All in all, Kuldeep Bishnoi may have a very marginal advantage over Dushyant Chauthala, but everything will depend on the campaign the duo will conduct. Also, while marginal, if the BJP can ensure the transfer of its upper caste vote bank to the HJC chief, he will have a better cushion of comfort in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Verdict: Toss up, but reasonable chances.
Cong – two time sitting MP, Arvind Kumar Sharma, BJP – editor of Punjab Kesari, Ashwani Kumar Chopra, INLD – former MLA of Pehowa, Jaswinder Singh Sandhu, AAP – founding member, Paramjeet Singh
Past Performance, Numbers, and Trends:
This is a seat where both the BJP and the HJC have considerable influence. In the 2009 Assembly elections, the BJP and the HJC got 8.33% and 14.26% of the vote respectively, but the BJP vote in the Lok Sabha has always been higher. In 2004, the BJP, contesting on its own, had obtained 18.83% of the vote, and was the runner up. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the HJC had performed badly, winning only 6.07% of the vote. Sheer arithmetic of votes in the Assembly or Lok Sabha elections gives the BJP-HJC combine a total of 22.59% of the vote based on Assembly elections. Given the general disgust with the Congress, the BJP is well poised to benefit from the loss of the Congress, which, had won 26.85% and 37.07% of the votes in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections. The INLD has always been in the third spot in this seat. A negative swing of 8% for the Congress ought to be sufficient for the BJP to win the seat, provided the 8% of the vote accrues to the BJP and not to the others. From a numbers perspective, the seat is well within the reach of the BJP-HJC combine.
Karnal is famous as the `Brahmin seat’ of Haryana, i.e., Brahmins tend to win from the constituency, even though the Brahmins are not dominant here. The late Chiranji Lal Sharma won the constituency a series of times until his death. The Punjabi community forms a plurality in the constituency. To tap into this community, the BJP has fielded Punjab Kesari editor, Ashwani Kumar Chopra, but this development has upset the HJC apparently, which originally wanted the seat for Chander Mohan (brother of Kuldeep Bishnoi), but yielded it under the impression that a local Brahmin from the BJP would be fielded. If the BJP can put its house in order, they are well poised to profit from the candidates list. Both the AAP and the INLD have fielded Sikhs, and they are likely to take the Sikh vote. The INLD, and the Congress will also likely share the Jat vote and the Jat Sikh vote may be shared by the AAP and the INLD. The Brahmin vote will be likely shared out between the Congress and the BJP, while the Punjabi Hindu vote (Khatris, Aroras, etc) will accrue to the BJP. The balance will then be on a knife edge based on how the OBCs, Dalits and the other upper castes vote. On balance, the seat seems quite possible for the BJP with a bit of effort. They need two factors to ensure their success. First, they need the full cooperation of the HJC and they also need to pacify other local ticket aspirants. Second, they will need some help from the SAD in persuading at least part of the Sikh vote to accrue to the BJP. If these two are done, the BJP may well manage to wrest this constituency from the Congress. To add to the BJP advantage, there is a considerable amount of urban vote around Panipat. This vote is something the BJP should be able to tap into.
Verdict: Can win, but requires a strong effort.
Cong – brother of sitting MP Jitender Malik, Jagbir Malik, BJP – defecting former Minister, Ramesh Kaushik, INLD – party secretary, Padam Dahiya, AAP – Jaisingh Thekedar.
Past Performance, Numbers and Trends:
This is a seat where the BJP had won in 2004 under the strong leadership of Kishan Singh Sangwan. The BJP had won 31.67% of the vote on his own in 2004. In the last Assembly elections, the BJP won 8.30% of the vote and the HJC won 5.23%. In comparison, the Congress and the INLD had won 40.19% and 31.65% of the vote in the same Assembly elections. The HJC had won 5.95% of the vote in 2009 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, in contrast, had won 47.57% of the vote in Lok Sabha elections 2009. For the BJP-HJC alliance to win, they need swing of around 20% in their favour and a similar swing against the Congress. Not a very likely scenario.
This is the beginning of Hooda’s home turf. The BJP heavyweight, Kishan Singh Sangwan, at one time, held great sway in the region, but his influence has diminished after his death. The Jat vote will be divided between the Congress and the INLD. The BJP has fielded a Brahmin, the peripatetic Ramesh Kaushik (the man has been in nearly every ministry in the last two decades), who will likely take the upper caste and probably a large part of the OBC vote as well (given the OBC PM candidate, and the alliance with HJC, which does have a considerable presence in the region). Theoretically, the constituency should feature a triangular fight, but BJP suffers from two problems. First, Pradeep Sangwan (the only Jat leader in the region with any influence), son of Kishan Singh Sangwan, has risen in revolt and promised to contest as an independent. If this happens, the BJP will be likely out of the race even before it has begun. But if the BJP is able to staunch the revolt, and put up a united face, the BJP could put up, at the very least, a stiff contest. But if it is unable to do so, then the contest, such as it is, will be between the Congress and the INLD. But in all probability, if the contest is between the Congress and the iNLD, the Congress will hold the advantage. Only a united BJP-HJC effort can yield any fruit, even if it is an uphill struggle right from the beginning. Whether the BJP can put its own house in order remains to be seen.
Verdict: Very difficult for the BJP
Cong – sitting MP and CM’s son, Deepinder Singh Hooda, BJP – Om Prakash Dhankar, the Kisan Morcha president, and supposed confidant of the PM candidate, Narendra Modi, INLD – Shamsher Singh, AAP – Naveen Jaihind
Past Performance, Numbers and Trends:
The numbers for BJP and HJC in Rohtak are very unkind. BJP had 7.45% of the vote and HJC had 2.9% of the vote in Assembly 2009. In 2004, the BJP candidate, Abhimanyu Singh had cornered 26% of the vote, but that was in the days before Hooda became the chief minister. Further, the HJC had only 2.45% of the vote in Lok Sabha elections 2009. In contrast, the Congress had 49.42% and 69.88 % of the vote in Assembly and Lok Sabha 2009. Even if there were to be a swing against the Congress, it would be quite safe.
The Congress sitting MP Deepinder Singh Hooda, thanks to the good work done by his father in the area, seems nearly unbeatable. This is Jat heartland and no non-Jat has a chance, which is probably why all candidates are Jats. Also, Om Prakash Dhankar’s candidature does not seem to have been very well received by the party workers in the region. It is uncertain that anyone has the heft to challenge Deepinder Singh Hooda in his home turf.
Verdict: Victory all but impossible for the BJP.
Cong – Sitting MP, and granddaughter of Chaudhary Bansi Lal, Shruti Chaudhary, BJP – defecting Congress MLA from Sohna, Dharamveer Singh, INLD – sitting Nangal Chaudhary MLA, Rao Bahadur Singh, AAP – Lalit Agarwal.
Past Performance, Numbers and Trends:
This is a seat where the BJP-HJC combine had a combined vote of 26.66% of the vote in the Assembly elections 2009. In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the HJC had a vote of 24.76% of the vote. The BJP had a vote of 18.8% in Lok Sabha 2004 on its own. So, this is a seat where the BJP-HJC combine has a good starting base. The Congress had 30.06% and 35.63% of the vote in 2009 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections respectively. The BJP needs a swing of around 7% for it and a similar swing away from the Congress. From the numbers, this seems eminently feasible.
This seat is a real toss up, if there was one on earth. A straight fight between the BJP and the Congress. The sitting MP, Shruti Chaudhary and her mother, Kiran Chaudhary are extremely powerful voices in the region. With Kiran and Shruti Chaudhary inheriting the legacy of Chaudhary Bansi Lal, they are extremely respected in the region. However, they are fighting a double incumbency, both at the state and the centre, and their opponent is one person who could upset their apple cart, Dharamveer Singh. Dharamveer Singh has the reputation of having defeated Chaudhary Bansi Lal back in 1987 and becoming the youngest MLA, and he is blessed with the real Jat fighting spirit, and capable of doing whatever it takes to win. With the Jat votes likely to go mostly to Shruti Chaudhary (with some accruing to Dharamveer Singh, who is also a Jat), the accent will be on the OBC votes and UC votes which will be the deciders in the constituency. And here, the BJP has reasons for both cheer and worry. The non-Yadav OBC votes will likely go to Dharamveer Singh, who will be helped in the bargain by his alliance with the HJC (which will help toss the Bishnoi votes into his kitty), along with the PM candidate’s caste. The Yadav vote (the other important factor here along with the Jat vote) is something that should give him pause for two reasons. First, the other BJP contender for Bhiwani ticket, Sudha Yadav, a Kargil hero’s wife, is reportedly upset with Dharamveer’s candidacy. Secondly, the presence of Rao Bahadur Singh, a Yadav MLA from Nangal Chaudhary is another worrying factor. If the Yadav vote were to be shared out, it might put Dharamveer at a disadvantage. Complicating the matter for Dharamveer is the presence of a Bania candidate from the AAP, which might cut into the upper caste vote bank of the BJP. However, despite all these problems, Dharamveer Singh is not badly off. The amount of anti-incumbency makes Shruti Chaudhary’s position anything but secure. All in all, this is a real toss up seat, and the fight is between the Congress and the BJP.
Verdict: Toss up, reasonable chances.
Candidates: Cong – Rao Dharampal Singh, BJP – sitting MP, defecting Congressman, and scion of the local dynasty, Rao Inderjit Singh, INLD – former MLA, Zakeer Hussain, AAP – former psephologist, and CM candidate of AAP, Yogendra Yadav.
Past Performance, Numbers and Trends:
The BJP and the HJC had 11.03% and 3.01% of the votes respectively. The Congress had 30.01% of the votes. The lower vote share of the BJP in the Assembly was due to the presence of a few powerful independents in the region. The HJC had won 15.51% of the votes in Lok Sabha 2009. The Congress had 36.83% of the votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha, and 30.01% of the votes in the 2009 Assembly elections. Reading between the lines, the BjP-HJC combine is starting from a base of around 15% and should be home and dry if it can get a bonus swing of around 12% and an equal swing away from the Congress.
This should see a triangular fight between the Congress, the BJP and the AAP. The seat has a large Meo Muslim population (around 35%) which is being wooed by all three, Congress, INLD and AAP. Even Rao Inderjit Singh has a following among Mewati Muslims, who might get some of their votes. Zakeer Hussain, a former MLA, can also be expected to bite into the Congress’ Muslim vote bank. But otherwise, the dominant castes in the rural areas are the Yadavs and OBCs like Gujjars. Rao Dharmapal Singh and Yogendra Yadav have been trying to woo the fellow Yadavs, but it is hard since Rao Inderjit Singh has a loyal Yadav following. The urban regions of Gurgaon are in a Modi wave, and the educated classes can be expected to back Rao Inderjit Singh to the hilt. The urban poor votes will be divided three way – between the AAP, BJP, and the Congress. The one source of worry for Rao Inderjit Singh, apart from the large Muslim population, should be the anti-incumbency he is facing. Rao Inderjit, by sheer longevity of his ruling the constituency, has accumulated a bit of anti-incumbency. But with the Modi wave, the caste factor, and divided opposition, Rao Inderjit Singh should be home and dry with a bit of luck.
Verdict: Marginal advantage BJP.
Candidates: Cong – two time sitting MP, Avtar Singh Bhadana, BJP – sitting Tigaon MLA Krishnapal Gujjar, INLD – former MP, R K Anand, AAP – Purushottam Dagar.
Past Performance, Numbers and Trends:
The numbers from the constituency indicate that the BJP has a reasonable base of 14.95% in the Assembly Elections 2009. Similarly, the BJP had 20.33% of the vote in the region in 2004 (but post demarcation, the constituency has changed significantly, so the old vote share may not be very valid). The HJC did badly in both the Assembly elections and Lok Sabha 2009 winning 2.15 and 4.99 percent of the votes respectively. The Congress had a vote share of 37.78 and 41.25 percent of the votes in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections 2009 respectively. On paper, the BJP needs a swing of around 12%, with the same swing away from the Congress, to win the constituency.
This will be an interesting quadrangular fight. All four candidates have chances. The two time sitting MP, Avtar Singh Bhadana is facing a bunch of problems, not least his poor relations with the CM, Hooda. Anti-incumbency is heavy and he faces an urban populace that is exasperated with the Congress. If the OBC votes get split between the BJP and the Congress, (with more of the OBC vote likely going to the BJP), Mr. Bhadana faces a serious problem, since his urban poor votebank may also be poached by the AAP. The educated class is likely to go to the BJP (some possibly even for the AAP). However, the situation has been complicated for the BJP by the entry of R K Anand, a Punjabi, into the fray. The dominant Punjabi vote in the constituency might be carved up by the entry of R K Anand to the detriment of the BJP. If this happens, it is advantage Bhadana. Otherwise, the BJP should be able to win the constituency, with the backing of the Punjabi, OBC, upper caste and urban votes.
Verdict: Toss up, reasonable chances.
Overall, the BJP strategy seems to be to unite the three groups where they have considerable influence – the OBC, urban and upper caste votebanks behind their candidates. With the Jat vote likely to be divided between the Congress and the INLD, the BJP has only a small slice of Jats to woo. Further, the entry of Gen. V K Singh into the BJP could have a strong effect on the large number of army men in Haryana, and Gen. Singh, also a Haryanvi, is well respected. If the BJP carries through its strategy, it will be a case of the BJP-HJC combine doing to the Congress what the Congress did to Chauthala and Bansi Lal through Bhajan Lal. it would be the consummation of the irony if the BJP were to make an instrument of Bhajan Lal’s son to implement Bhajan Lal’s strategy against the Congress to the latter’s detriment.
The one thing that could have swung the BJP’s chances to its advantage would have been the presence of a major leader in the fray in Haryana. Had Sushma Swaraj contested from Karnal or Faridabad as was originally suggested, she might have well helped the BJP polarise the upper caste and even the middle class votes in her party’s favour. Despite cynicism expressed at Ms. Swaraj on the social media, she still has access to an upper caste vote in Haryana that is quite out of reach of other Haryana BJP leaders. Nevertheless, she has not, so the BJP has to make do with what it has.
Among the seats, the final verdict would be that the BJP-HJC has good chances in one seat (Gurgaon), and reasonable chances in four (Ambala, Hisar, Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, and Faridabad. Two more (Sirsa and Karnal) are winnable with an effort. There are two more seats (Kurukshetra and Sonepat) where the BJP has an outside chance. There is one seat (Rohtak) where the BJP will find it all but impossible to win.
 – IBN Lokniti vote share projections shown on 23/01/2014 http://ibnlive.in.com/news/election-tracker-congress-ahead-in-haryana-bjpsad-leads-in-punjab/447382-81.html
 – C Voter Survey published by India Today Group on 17/01/2014 http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/aam-aadmi-party-aap-vs-bjp-haryana-lok-sabha-polls-c-voter-survey/1/338228.html
1By referring to the history of the BJP, I am referring to the period after the BJP was created from the Jan Sangh and the Swatantra Party, from the Ashes of the Janata Party experiment.
2At least, this author is unaware of any corruption scandals attainting the former CM. If I am wrong, and have missed some of his scandals, please feel free to correct me.