New BJP in old bottle?

  • Abhishek Behl / FG
  • India
  • Sep 26, 2014



It was expected that with an incorruptible Prime Minister at the top, and his Protégé leading the most powerful Party in the country, politics would become cleaner. With Prime Minister Modi setting his sights on corruption in public affairs and setting his bar high with assertions like 'Na khaunga, na khaane  dunga', many expected at least an end to dirty practices - which had brought about the downfall of the UPA. However, in the pursuit of power, to now dominate the politics in the State elections, the BJP seems to have forgotten many such ‘promises’. The distribution of its Party tickets in Haryana has led to strong allegations that a massive amount of money has changed hands, and in fact has been the primary motivation in the selection of candidates. In Badshahpur constituency, which is one of the largest in Haryana, BJP State Secretary Mukesh Sharma has rebelled, making serious allegations that the Party ticket was given to a candidate who had obliged the State President, Rambilas Sharma, and several others. Mukesh Sharma has decided to fight the elections from Badshahpur as an Independent, and is expected to put up a strong performance. Sharma, while  resigning from the Party, has alleged that despite his being promised a Party ticket  by the State leadership and the High Command, the mandate instead went to Rao Narbir Singh, who had neither worked in the field nor done much for the organisation during the Lok Sabha polls. Sources say that while Sharma's allegations have weight, the reason Singh had been ‘accommodated’ in Badshahpur is that he  is a senior Ahir  leader and this constituency is dominated by the Yadavs. They do not deny that  money might have been exchanged. However, they maintain that while such accusations are being made against the State leadership, the same leaders who are now going to media with allegations of corruption have done similar things in the past. One of the leaders who was denied a ticket is alleged to have distributed cash around the constituency and has also been a regular visitor at the homes of some  Union Ministers and the BJP State President (to whom he is said to have given  expensive high-end cars and also spent huge sums). Now, after failing to get a ticket, he has raised the banner of revolt. Interestingly, the roles of some of the functionaries of the RSS, who prefer to work in the ‘background’, has also come under the scanner –  in the alleged ‘sale’ of tickets. It is being alleged that they, along with State ‘prabhari’ –  for the elections, and other organisation members are fully aware of this ‘sale and  purchase’ of tickets in the Party, which has led to massive protests across Haryana.


Party workers and leaders across the State have held protests, and many have left  the Party after the first list was announced. Strong protests were lodged  in Narnaund, Mahendragarh, Hisar, Kaithal, Faridabad, Kurukshetra, Rohtak  and even Narnaul. Party members are seething with anger as senior leaders have  been denied tickets for one reason or the other. Allegations have also surfaced in  Gurgaon; it is being said both the contenders – strong in their own right – were approached by the Party leaders responsible for the issuance of tickets, and a ‘deal’ was struck with one of them. A large amount of money allegedly changed hands (in  the name of Party funds). The Party also seems to believe that the Modi wave  is still alive – and their view is being bolstered by many people from other Parties  wishing to join the BJP. The stakes in Gurgaon and Badhshahpur are also high because  an MLA from here may likely get a seat in the State cabinet. GL Sharma, local BJP  leader and a close confidante of Rao Inderjit Singh, was unable to secure the Party mandate, despite leading in various internal and external Party surveys. The BJP leadership preferred to give the ticket to Umesh Agarwal, who had lost the election the last time. He belongs to the Bania community, which has only 20,000 votes in a constituency dominated by Punjabis and Brahmins. And even if some sort of a Modi/BJP wave still prevails in Gurgaon/Haryana, it would be difficult for Agarwal  to romp home. The 50,000 strong Brahmin community in the constituency has decided that it will punish the BJP for sidelining its candidates in both the  constituencies. In fact the Gurgaon Brahman Sabha has organised large meetings  of the community and even contemplated supporting an independent candidate  from the community. BJP Brahmin leaders Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, GL Sharma and  Trilok Sharma (a protégé of Baba Ramdev) have severely criticised the Party for failing to give the community a ticket, despite there being strong contenders. The community has been waiting for the Congress to declare its candidate for Gurgaon;   and now that  the mandate has gone to Dharamvir Gauba, it is expected that Brahmins will veer  towards the Congress. Gauba, a veteran Punjabi leader, is seen as an amiable,  non-controversial person, and is well liked. If the Congress ticket had gone to Seema Pahuja or Pankaj Kharbanda, it is likely that a senior leader from the Punjabi/Brahmin community would have become a contender for the Gurgaon MLA seat. In Badshahpur, Rao Inderjit’s bête noire, Rao Narbir Singh, has managed to secure the BJP ticket, thus causing a setback to the aspirations of Haryana Insaaf Manch leaders like Mayor Vimal Yadav and Rao Abhay Singh, who were making strong claims  for the ticket. Kamal Yadav, a Party executive, was also claiming this ticket. Rao Narbir Singh has ostensibly been chosen because he has supported the Party even in tough times, and was instrumental in the success of the Rewari rally of PM Modi. Although  Singh may be a slow starter in this constituency, his being a senior Ahir leader should Give him confidence, in this Yadav dominated constituency. However, being an opponent of the Gurgaon MP would cause him problems in the community. His  personality also seemingly evokes very strong reactions. To make matters worse,  INLD has fielded Rakesh Daulatad, a strong local Jaat leader, who has support across different communities. The presence of Rao Dharampal, the most likely Congress  candidate from Badshahpur, who is also a Yadav and has strong pockets of influence, could make life most difficult for the BJP candidate. To finally rub it in, there is the  presence of ‘rebel’ Mukesh Sharma, who is claiming a majority of Brahmin votes in Badshahpur. Sharma, in a clever move to secure the sympathy of the Ahirs, has  declared that if he wins he will support the candidature of Rao Inderjit Singh for the post of Chief Minister.  

The problems for BJP in the neighbouring Sohna constituency have also been caused  By the presence of a large number of ticket claimants. While a reportedly honest and Low profile Gurgaon BJP chief Tejpal Tanwar has managed to get the ticket, it is being  speculated that infighting in the Gujjar community is likely to cause trouble for the Party candidate. The Party also caused resentment among the ticket aspirants when it ‘engineered’ the defection of INLD leader Rohtash Khatana (though he did not  finally get the ticket from Sohna). There is also speculation that Ashok Jaunapuria,  son of BJP MP and strongman Sukhbir Jaunapuria, could fight the election as an Independent. The distribution of tickets has divided the majority Gujjars, and this  could help Javed Khan, the only Muslim candidate, who is likely to get the complete  support from the Mev community. It is also being speculated that ultimately the election might get polarized, and this could help either Tanwar or the strongest Gujjar candidate. With strong differences between different communities and villages in Sohna, the political battle has become complicated. 

With the Modi wave waning (at least in Assembly elections), with serious differences  cropping up in the rank and file, and the presence of a large number of factional  leaders, things are not going to be very smooth for the saffron Party. Despite assertions by the leadership that it will win a majority, even insiders admit that it would be difficult for BJP to get more than 35 seats in the present situation.  In fact, it is being said that BJP has already entered into an alliance with INLD –  both knowing well that it would be difficult for either to secure a majority. The Assembly election in Haryana (and Maharashtra) is going to be a tough test for  Amit Shah and his team. Catching a receding wave to ensure that the tide is kept  high, is not an easy task.


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