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INLD, BSP pre-poll pact puts politics in top gear in Haryana

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 19 April 2018, 16:27 IST
(Arya Sharma / Catch News)

With more or less a year to go before the General election process kicks in, Haryana's political firmament is showing signs of heating up soon. Wednesday the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Bahujan Samaj party (BSP) drew first blood in the poll arena by annoincing an understanding.

For starters, a tie-up will surely be a boost to main Opposition INLD, which is out of power for the third term now. But that won't be the be all and end all, political observers think.

Dalits, BSP's core supporters, are around 21 per cent of Haryana's population. Although they have been traditionally Congress supporters, the BSP too has been able to put in place a dedicated base. By eying to garner most of the downtrodden community's support, Mayawati's party is now looking at emerging kingmaker. 

Wednesday Haryana Leader of Opposition Abhay Singh Chautala (INLD) and BSP's Meghraj Singh announced the parties have joined hands in Haryana to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress out of power. Singh is in charge of BSP's affairs in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.

The two parties had come together for a short-lived alliance in 1998. It remains to be seen how they avoid the repeat of that episode, when senior-most INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala was at the helm of affairs.

Abhay, Om Prakash's son, said the alliance was on certain broad contours and Mayawati would be projected as the prime ministerial candidate. 

The Congress is guilty of massive corruption and the BJP has left no stone unturned to lead the country towards violent inter-community and inter-communal conflicts and polarise the society. Therefore all forces representing the downtrodden, suppressed, farming and the labouring classes must join hands to oust and keep them away from power, he said.

Abhay claimed the coming together has laid the foundation for a Third Front. The two parties are determined to champion the cause of the Dalits, farmers and the working class and create a new Haryana.

Meghraj too reiterated the resolve of the two parties to give a credible alternative to the nation and keep the BJP and the Congress out of power in Haryana.

The issue sharing of seats in elections has been left open for the moment. Both the leaders also resolved that the BSP will lend its wholehearted support to the 'Jail Bharo' agitation being launched by the INLD from May 1.

Meanwhile Meghraj said BSP’s lone legislator in Haryana Tek Chand Sharma has been suspended since party workers were dissatisfied with his functioning and he extended outside support to the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government. In the last Assembly polls, the BSP cornered 4.37 per cent votes, a 2-percentage point fall than in 2009. 

The INLD and the BSP formed an alliance ahead of the 1998 Lok Sabha polls and the BSP had even managed to win the Ambala seat. The INLD won its maximum of four out of the state's 10 seats. The alliance was short lived as Om Prakash announced support for the minority BJP government at the centre under Atal Behari Vajpayee. At that time the relation between the BJP and Mayawati had hit rock bottom.

In 2009, the BSP had also gone in for an alliance with Haryana Janhit Congress, led by Kuldeep Bishnoi but it broke ahead of the polls.

Who thinks what

The most scathing reaction to the news of the alliance came from BJP state chief Subhash Barala, who called it a “mismatched marriage”, harking back to 1998. “While INLD patriarch Chaudhary Devi Lal was the rallying point for the Third Front, his successors have taken the party to the pits where it is looking up to the BSP leadership for survival,” he said.

“In the last Assembly polls where the INLD candidates had come a close second on 17 seats and the margin of loss was less than five per cent of the votes. It is being perceived that with a little support, they could have won and the party tally would have gone up to 38 seats. 

“In such circumstances there are often chances of the party forming the government. The coming together of INLD and BSP is a first major move ahead of the forthcoming polls and many more such moves will dot the poll matrix in the days to come,” says senior political observer Balwant Takshak.

Observers say that if the combination gathers steam in the months to come it would pose a major challenge to the Congress that is eying major political gains. It need to be seen how the Dalits take to supporting the INLD that is widely perceived to be a Jat political force. 

During the Jat agitation of 2016, the Dalits had been at the receiving end in places like Gohana. Many things will emerge in the days to come but for now the INLD has definitely put politicking in the first gear in Haryana.

First published: 19 April 2018, 16:27 IST