Chandigarh, Oct 21 | For the 90-member Legislative Assembly in deeply clan-bound Haryana elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and other issues surrounding nationalism as the major poll plank, while the Congress, which is eyeing a return has tried to corner the saffron party over the issue of unemployment and agrarian crisis in the state.
The Congress was hoping to make a comeback following the change in guard in the party’s state unit last month. Former Union Minister Kumari Selja replaced Ashok Tanwar as the state unit chief and with former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda as the Chairman of the party’s Election Management Committee and the Leader of Congress in the state Assembly, the Congress has put forth a united face by trying to come over their differences.
The BJP has set a target to bag at least 75 seats in the elections in which 1,169 candidates of various political outfits are in the fray. The party has raked up the issue of abrogation of Article 370, Triple Talaq Law along with the various developmental schemes enacted under Manohar Lal Khattar government in the last five years.
Currently, the BJP has 47 members in the 90-member State Assembly. The BJP campaigned aggressively in the state, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi devoting four days in the last phase by holding seven public meetings in the state.
Similarly, his cabinet colleagues — Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, also addressed seven and nine rallies respectively.
Union Minister Smriti Irani, BJP MPs Hema Malini, Sunny Deol and Gautam Gambhir also campaigned for the party in the poll bound state. According to the BJP leaders, the Assembly elections in the state is a litmus test for the Chief Minister.
Khattar, a non-Jat, throughout his campaigning, largely played on the nationalist issues, highlighting major decisions taken by the Central government like the abrogation of Article 370 relating to Jammu and Kashmir in August this year.
The BJP also highlighted Khattar government’s major achievements, like delivering a corruption-free government and transparency in recruitment for government jobs.
Unlike the BJP, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi addressed only two election rallies, including one that party interim President Sonia Gandhi was supposed to address in the state.
Besides Rahul Gandhi, former Union Minister and senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot were among the prominent faces who campaigned for the party.
The Congress campaign was based on the agrarian crisis, unemployment and the poor law and order in the state. The Congress on number of occasions also targeted the BJP over Khattar’s comments on bringing girls from Kashmir as brides for boys in Haryana after the revocation of Article 370.
Selja, Hooda and other senior Congress leaders raked up the issue of 28 per cent of unemployment rate in the state during their campaigns. The Congress criticised the BJP’s inability to control the economic crisis that has led to the shutting down of the production units of several major auto companies for several days in a month in the state leading to jobs cuts.
Besides the issue of unemployment, the Congress pitched the issue of agrarian crisis in the state and also promised to waive off the farm loans if voted to power.
It also highlighted the poor law and order situation in the state. However, in the clan-bound Haryana, all eyes will be on which party the Jat community, which constitutes nearly 26 per cent of the state’s population, votes this time. The BJP has fielded 20 candidates from the community, the Congress 26 and the Jannayak Janta Party 33.