Campaigning ends, Khattar rests his case on Modi

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during an election campaign rally for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls in Hisar district. PTI file photo
The election campaign in Haryana that ended today was an exercise overwhelmingly dominated by saffron party’s ‘Modi chant’ even as reals issues concerning people arguably got knocked down somewhere within. 

BJP’s underlying election strategy in Haryana, which goes to poll on May 12, remained double-barrelled: To polarize non-Jat votes in Jat dominated Haryana and to fortify the contest essentially around Modi’s victory and the narrative surrounding its ‘exclusivity of masculine nationalism’. 

The political discourse in Jatland by the BJP did not find much mention of demonetization, GST or even the laurels of the state government. The BJP trump card in Haryana, perhaps also in other parts of the country, was to project Modi as the champion of national security, which it did well. Votes were sought in the name of Modi. Leaders were candid saying the candidate does not matter, it’s a vote for Modi. 

A ‘Modi-centred’ campaign gave the opposition Congress and other parties an equal opportunity to retort to the BJP’s ‘pro-incumbency’ claims. The opposition managed to touch ground level issues and failures of the Manohar Lal Khattar government in the state on law and order and development. Many of the mainstream candidates of the opposition parties sought votes on their personal credibility, self-proclaimed or otherwise, and on their connect with the people. 

The Congress, which could win just 1 seat out of the 10 parliament seats in Haryana in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, is claiming to be rejuvenated. The Congress choice of candidates has made the contest tough on many seats and the BJP’s claim of a clean sweep or even a performance matching its best last of 7 seats in 2014, may not be easy. 

The Congress has put its best foot-forward fielding former two-term chief minister BS Hooda, his son and three term sitting MP Deepinder Hooda and other prominent faces in poll fray. The INLD, which split ahead of the elections, has found the going tough. Its rebel faction, Janata Jananayak Party (JJP), formed by the estranged members of the Chautala family, has shown some traction in the contest as the underdogs. 

In galvanizing the non-Jat votes on caste lines, the BJP, rightly or otherwise, managed to widen the gap between the Jat and the non-Jat community in Haryana. While this may have been the case even earlier, however, this time around, the description appears more visible. 

    

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