Amit Shah's flop rally shows BJP desperately needs to check slide in Haryana
The 'hunkar' (thunder) was definitely missing from the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Yuva Hunkar Rally in Jind Thursday despite an address by party chief Amit Shah. The response that it got from the masses as well as the Opposition is an indication that the BJP is definitely on the defensive in the state as far as the forthcoming Lok Sabha and subsequent Assembly polls are concerned.
This is also evident from the fact that with not much to write home about the performance of the Manohar Lal Khattar government in the state, the party's much-touted poll campaign by Shah began on a negative note. Most of the time was spent blaming the Congress instead of recounting the BJP's achievements.
In the process the BJP sent out negative signals with commoners pointing out that such events are normally planned by the Opposition; the ruling party should foclus on addressing the concerns of the people than such antics where the chief minister and the party president are promoted riding motorcycles.
Shah harped on the BJP's promise of a corruption-free, inclusive government. But the people were more keen to hear what the party had to say on the conduct of the central government over the flight of scam accused likes of Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallaya.
By Thursday evening videos of empty chairs at the rally went viral; anyway, allegations regarding the mining scam in Dadam area of Bhiwani and other areas that have hit headlines at regular intervals.
Shah chose to focus his attack on the Congress, particularly on the former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The BJP chief said during his regime central funds for Haryana “used to go down the gutter of corruption”.
“Listen Hooda ji, I have come here with all accounts to be put before the people,” he said as he tried to compare the corruption during the Congress regime with the “development and corruption-free government” under his party's regime.
The BJP has been claiming that the rally would create a world record but the empty chairs at the venue proved to be a counter to the claims.
“There is not a single allegation of corruption against the Khattar government. This is a big achievement,” he said, claiming Khattar initiated a number of pro-people measures. He also claimed that during this regime the state has been free of nepotism, corruption and regionalism. He then focused on what the central government's recent budget has to offer to the masses.
Both the Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) have termed the BJP rally a failure. Hooda has asked the BJP to spell the motive behind the rally while the state Congress unit chief Ashok Tanwar alleged that Rs 100 crore was spent on this rally in terms of making security and arrangements. Tanwar was arrested along with his supporters when he had gone to oppose Shah's rally.
The Indian National Lokdal (INLD) workers too had protested at various places by showing black flags. The party had opposed the event on the grounds that the BJP government in the state as well as at the Centre has been doing nothing to get Haryana its water dues by expediting the construction of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. INLD leaders have also been vocal about their resentment against the BJP's tourism minister in Goa having made adverse comments against Haryanavis.
The BJP cannot expect to find buyers to its tall claims given the experience of Khattar administration having unraveled repeatedly, particularly on the law and order front. In the last three years of its existence the government has stood exposed for its inability to check mayhem in the instances of the law catching up with controversial godmen Ram Pal and Ram Rahim.
The state is still to recover from the damage that the mishandling of the Jat reservation agitation did to the social fabric as the community stood isolated from the remaining 35 Biradaris (communities) of the state.
The government's record in checking the violence against women has been among the worst in the country with the state recording most heinous rapes at regular intervals and the Punjab and Haryana High Court continuing to shame the state for its inability to bring to book the culprits of the Murthal mass rapes during height of the Jat agitation of 2016.
Then there has also been the menace of cow vigilantes that has alienated the minorities and the Dalits. The Dalits have otherwise also been targeted in the state and have been very vulnerable to the assaults by upper castes. These are subjects which Shah and his leaders would not touch but the people would remember when the time comes for polling.
The BJP's electoral graph at this point of time is looking to dip in Haryana in a big way unless the party comes up with something that can check this slide.