New Delhi: Ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha and Haryana Assembly polls next year, the Bharatiya Janata Party has begun its attempts at consolidation of non-Jat castes in the state, a strategy that has borne fruit for the saffron unit in the past several elections.
The BJP has been successfully implementing its Jat-versus non-Jat political strategy in Haryana for the last 9 years, with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on the home stretch of his second term.
The party considers the non-Jat voters its main vote bank. As part of its strategy to ensure that these castes rally together next year as well, the BJP leadership last week removed the Jat state president OP Dhankar and handed over the command of the state to a non-Jat OBC Nayab Singh Saini.
This was a clear signal to the core voters of the BJP that their community’s cause will be supreme for the saffron unit, sources said.
However, the party immediately appointed Dhankhar as the National Secretary of the party, seemingly as a measure to ensure that the Jats in the state weren’t angered.
This decision also ended the fight between the government and the organization, which had been pushing for an increase in non-Jat representation within the party, sources said.
It is understood that the 2019 Assembly polls in Haryana were secured by the BJP due to the division of Jat voters in the state allowing for a return of the Manohar Lal Khattar government.
Jats are one of the castes that have not backed the BJP in Haryana due to its consolidation of non-Jat castes over the past. The consolidation of non-Jat votes was used by the saffron unit to ride to victory in the 2014 and 2019 state legislative Assembly polls.
The Jat community has been a traditional voter of the Congress. To secure the state, the BJP has been successfully utilizing a fight between powerful factions in the grand old party led by Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kumari Selja and one headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son Deepender Singh Hooda.
The saffron unit is also tacitly backing the Jannayak Janta Party against the Indian National Lok Dal, trying to negate their Jat vote bank.
The BJP had secured seven out of the ten Lok Sabha seats in 2014, the state had given all 10 seats to the saffron unit in 2019. And the BJP is hoping to repeat its 100 per cent strike rate in Haryana in 2024 as well.
Currently, the 90-member Haryana Legislative Assembly has BJP 40, Jannayak Janta Party 10 and Congress 31 members. The other seats are held by Indian National Lok Dal and Independents.
The BJP secured 49 seats in the 2014 Haryana Assembly polls, forming its first-ever government in the state under Manohar Lal Khattar.
With months left for Lok Sabha polls, the situation within the Congress is so bad that its state leadership has completely failed in putting Khattar in the dock over his failure to tackle recent communal clashes in Nuh. Khattar recently toured the Nuh areas affected by riots, where he reassured and reached out to the Hindu community. Congress leadership has been bickering amongst themselves while allowing the Khattar government to evade responsibility on this crucial issue.
With the opposition in disarray, the BJP seems to be on track to consolidate non-Jat voters in the states ahead of 2024.