Hooda faces litmus test again
Haryana goes to polls tomorrow. The elections to the 12th Assembly of the state are being carefully watched across the country as the present Congress chief minister is vying for the third consecutive term whereas the BJP is seriously contesting to secure an absolute majority on its own, banking on the popularity of its sole proven star campaigner, Modi.
The land of three Lals has always been witnessing fierce fights between the past and present generations. Even the current election has become a fight between the descendants of the Lal clans. Former CM Devi Lal’s party INLD cannot be treated as a spent force despite its president O P Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala being imprisoned due to their involvement in the teacher recruitment scam. The Congress is armed with three clans of Bansi Lal whereas Bhajan Lal’s party, in alliance with a new political outfit is contesting all 90 seats of the assembly. In all, ten family members of the three Lals have been fielded by different parties.
The present CM, Hooda, is facing a litmus test as his party is all set to become a victim of the law of diminishing returns. Seemingly the law is going to be upheld in the political scenario this time. Hooda has been utilising all his resources to replicate the success of Sheila Dikshit in Delhi by securing a third term in Haryana. In the run up to this, he is not depending on the Congress president and vice-president. He has been deploying his Pink brigade and has also started projecting himself as the best performer. The entire campaign, be it print or electronic, be it in the form of hoardings is based on well composed slogans and scripts on enormous achievements of Hooda during his last 10 years. In fact, Hooda had been in the election mood for the last two years. Hooda came to power in 2005. His party in the election to the 10th Assembly secured 42.46 per cent votes and 67 seats in the 90 member house. In the next election, the party had to lose 7.35 per cent votes and 27 seats to only secure 40 seats with 35.11 per cent votes. This is where an estimate on the law of diminishing returns comes into place. The party vote share may touch as low as 22 per cent and seats could be between 10 and 15. Keeping aside the 1977 assembly elections held under an extraordinary situation, the worst performance of the Congress has been in 1987 where it secured only five seats out of 90 and its best performance was in 1972 when it secured 52 seats in the then 81 member assembly by obtaining the highest vote of 46.91 per cent.
Devi Lal, during his long political innings, carved and nurtured hardcore loyal Jat supporters. The support is still intact and the party continues to be a force to reckon with in Haryana. The mass appeal of Chautala is an example. He attracted huge crowds in the latest rallies. This proved beyond any doubt that the people of Haryana are mad about their tainted leader just like the madness that was witnessed for the now ousted CM of Tamil Nadu. Tau’s party secured the best results in the 1987 assembly elections by winning 60 out of 69 contested seats with 38.58 per cent votes and the worst in 2005 by winning just nine seats out of 89 contested with 26.77 per cent votes.
The party had been generally contesting elections in alliance with the saffron party though it contested alone in 2005. The INLD bounced back in 2009 assembly elections, registering wins in 31 seats out of 88 contested with 25.81 per cent votes. The party in the present assembly elections is contesting all 90 seats and is upbeat and confident of dethroning Hooda.
The need is to also look at the performance of the saffron party in the 11 previous assembly elections since 1967. The party, riding on Modi is too confident of dislodging the present CM. It is contesting all 90 seats by accommodating a large number of defectors just to avoid any seat uncontested.
The performance of the party has been dismal whenever it has contested alone on all the seats whereas its fortunes have smiled while contesting as a junior partner in an alliance with Devi Lal’s or Bansi Lal’s regional outfits. It contested 89 seats out of 90 in 1991 to win just two with 9.43 per cent votes. It contested all 90 seats in 2005 to again win two with 10.36 per cent votes and all 90 in 2009 to win four seats with 9.05 per cent votes. BJP’s performance has been astonishing when it contested as a partner in an alliance. It won six out of the 24 contested seats in 1982, 16 out of 20 contested seats in 1987, 11 out of 25 contested seats in 1996 and six out of 29 contested seats in the 2000 elections. The party which had a landslide victory in the recent Lok Sabha elections in Haryana secured 7 out of 10 seats with 34.6 per cent votes and lead in around 60 assembly segments has all reasons to smile.
The author is a communication consultant