Real issues on back-burner, nationalism prevails

Last Updated 20 October 2019, 14:59 IST

With BJP managing to overwhelm the election campaign with a high dose of masculine nationalism, the narrative in this Haryana polls remained bereft of real issues.

Unemployment, water scarcity, polarization on caste lines, per capita income, the burgeoning state debt, drugs, farmers distress and other issues grappling the state found limited space.

The Opposition's counter to BJP’s campaign remained arguably subdued.

As per the report of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), Haryana has the highest unemployment in the country at 28.7%, against a national average of 8.4%.

But, the BJP’s claim of providing 75,000 jobs in the government sector swamped the rhetoric by the Opposition parties on the issue of unemployment.

As Haryana votes on Monday, in hindsight the BJP arguably won hands down during the 28-days of hectic campaign in Jatland.

The BJP’s narrative, largely surrounding national security, nationalism, abrogation of article 370, the Rafael jet advantage and Balakot surgical strikes, was juxtaposed with the achievements of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s five years of rule.

The BJP had deployed similar tactics in the Lok Sabha elections and emerged with flying colours romping home to a clean sweep wining all 10 seats.

The saffron party campaign strategy in Haryana did well to impose the same narrative in Assembly election where local issues invariable dominate.

The controversial SYL canal issue was less talked about.

The BJP enthused voters with a sense of nationalist pride with Modi government's decisiveness at the Centre, something that attempted to overshadowed everything else and all that came in its way.

“The twin engine of Modi at the Centre and Khattar in Haryana will propel the growth engine,” Modi and other leaders said with impunity.

The state today has a debt of nearly 1.70 lakh crore. Water availability in various parts of Haryana is a major issue. Joblessness has plagued the state. The manufacturing sector is reeling under a crisis. After Punjab, youth in Jatland are increasingly getting hooked to drugs.

In this highly polarized election on caste lines, the growing divide between the Jat and the non-Jat community threatens to rupture the social fabric.

The state got a glimpse into this anarchy during the ugly Jat quota stir in 2016.

Yet, many political parties have leveraged their strengths around this growing wedge. The election was no different from the past ones when political parties talked about farmers issues. However, the crisis of farmer distress remains daunting.

(Published 20 October 2019, 13:44 IST)

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