Haryana Civic Polls: BJP Loses GT Road Strongholds; Farmers’ Ire?
The wins in Sonepat and Sampla in particular are important for the Hoodas and Congress.
The results of the urban civic body polls in Haryana may come as a disappointment for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Jannanayak Janata Party alliance. The BJP lost in the mayoral elections in Sonepat and Ambala, with Panchkula being its only saving grace.
Both Sonepat and Ambala are cities on the Grand Trunk road, an area where BJP has historically been strong mainly due to the higher concentration of Punjabi and Baniya voters, as compared to Haryana's rural heartland. Even CM Manohar Lal Khattar is a Punjabi from Karnal, which is also in this belt.
This makes the BJP’s loss all the more significant.
Interestingly, this is also the the route most of the farmers took while coming to Delhi to protest.
In Sonepat, Congress candidate Nikhil Madaan defeated Lalit Batra of the BJP by over 13,000 votes in the Mayoral election.
A Congress backed Independent won the Municipal Chairman’s post in Sampla in Rohtak district, which is the pocket borough of former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and former Rohtak MP Deepender Singh Hooda.
This is the second important win for the Hoodas in their area of influence in the Deswal region. The Congress had recently won the bypoll to the Baroda Assembly constituency, despite the BJP putting up wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and deploying high profile campaigners in the election.
In Ambala, Shakti Rani Sharma of the Haryana Jan Chetna Party won a narrow victory over BJP's Vandana Sharma by around 4,000 votes. Shakti Rani Sharma is the wife of former minister Venod Sharma. Manu Sharma, convicted in the murder of Jessica Lal, is the son of Shakti Rani Sharma and Venod Sharma.
Even in Panchkula, which was the main saving grace for the BJP, the party was made to sweat by a good fight by Congress candidate Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia. But in the end BJP's Kulbhushan Goyal won by around 2,000 votes.
In the Rewari municipal chairman poll too, the BJP’s Poonam Yadav won a narrow victory by around 2000 votes. This is also a strong area for the BJP given the concentration of non-Jat voters, especially Ahirs.
In Dharuhera, also in Rewari district, a Congress backed Independent won by 19 votes, defeating BJP's ally JJP. In Ulkana in Hisar district, too, the BJP-JJP alliance lost and an Independent won.
Did Farm Laws Harm BJP?
This is possible as the farm laws have sparked criticism from farmers cutting across caste lines. The protests against the farm laws may have begun in Punjab but Haryana farmers, particularly Jats, have also joined the protests in large numbers. The BJP government in Haryana also faced flak for attacking protesters with water cannons and digging up roads to prevent farmers from travelling to Delhi.
The election results indicate that the ripple effects of the farmers agitation were felt in cities and towns as well.
The Indian National Lok Dal had decided to boycott the elections in protest against the “atrocities on farmers”. This may have also contributed to the consolidation of anti-BJP, anti-JJP votes
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