DC Edit | BJP follows old tactics as it changes Haryana CM

Departure from alliances, leadership shake-up aims to combat anti-incumbency, introduce new leaders

The fast-paced developments in Haryana which saw the parting of ways between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jannayak Janta Party, the resignation of old RSS hand Manoharlal Khattar as chief minister and his replacement with a younger Nayab Singh Saini reflect some interesting tactics by the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. On the one hand, it goes against the current practice of the party which is strengthening the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) it leads by recruiting new allies and mending friendships with old ones. On the other, it perfectly fits into the party’s way of dispensing with leaders whom it believes would not be fetching electoral victory, however tall they appear in the popular imagination.

The JJP with 10 members in the Assembly had come to the aid of the BJP after the latter failed to muster a simple majority in a House of 90 in the 2019 elections. After running a major part of the course with regard to the current Assembly’s term, it appears that both the parties have felt the association becoming untenable as each one would be looking at strengthening oneself at the cost of the other. The JJP’s demand for two of the 10 seats the state has in the Lok Sabha was inadmissible for the BJP as it had won all of them on its own in the 2019 elections. Its demand for a higher number of Assembly seats was also unacceptable as the BJP has assiduously built the party from the scratch in the state and come to power on its own in the 2014 elections for the first time.

Haryana is a state which did not go the BJP way as most other most north Indian states did. The presence of the various factions who owe allegiance to farmer leader of yore Devi Lal along with the Congress had stopped the saffron party in the state but the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was the turning point when the party won seven seats and 34 per cent votes. The Assembly elections later in the year repeated the pattern and brought the BJP to power. The party was, however, unable to repeat the feat and had fallen short of majority, necessitating an alliance with the regional party. The BJP is justified if it is worried about facing the polls with the same team.

Given the fact that there has been disenchantment with Mr Khattar, the two-time chief minister, the party used the opportunity provided by the alliance partner to dump the entire team and opt for a new one. This way, the party expects to overcome the anti-incumbency factor in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, and bring up a new crop of young leaders to power. Mr Saini, 54, now joins the league of BJP chief ministers Mohan Yadav, 59, of Madhya Pradesh, Bhajan lal Sharma, 56, of Rajasthan and Vishnu Deo Sai, 60, of Chhattisgarh who recently replaced veteran leaders and marked a generational shift in the power structure.

Critics would have several objections to the way the BJP functions but none should have a complaint about its ability to reinvent itself at regular intervals and anointing new crops of leaders to suit its larger political objectives. Mr Saini is the latest among them.
( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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