File photo of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar (PTI photo)
Chandigarh: In the Haryana municipal elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Jannayak Janata Party’s alliance won in the absence of the Congress, and a large number of independents won because of the Congress.
But despite a somewhat comfortable majority in city council and municipal committee elections, the BJP’s performance in Karnal, the home constituency of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, was disappointing.
Three out of four seats for the post of chairman of municipal committees were lost to independent candidates. The BJP-JJP alliance fielded candidates in Assandh, Gharaunda, Nissing and Taraori. BJP could win Assandh as President with Happy Luck Gupta defeating Surinder Singla by a margin of 31 votes. He had to face defeat in the remaining three.
BJP contested 34 seats, won 22 seats; Its coalition partner JJP won three in municipal elections for the presidents and members of 28 municipal committees and 18 city councils. The second highest number of winners were Independents who bagged 19 seats, and one each for the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Hooda and Surjewala supported candidates also lost
Although the Congress did not contest the election, it supported independent candidates and won only six such candidates backed by the Congress. However, candidates in Jhajjar and Bahadurgarh which are strongholds of Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda and were supported by him, lost the elections. Similarly, the candidate supported by Randeep Singh Surjewala also lost from Kaithal. However, the Congress claimed that most of the independents won because of their votes and support.
Good news neither for BJP-JJP nor for Congress
Harish Vashisht, who closely monitors the affairs of Haryana, said that the Congress left the field open because of its internal rift and also because they were not sure, in which case the BJP-JJP got a majority, but hardly. And, as a result, independent candidates won a huge number of seats. So it is difficult to say who should be happy in such a situation. BJP has strengthened itself in urban areas, that’s all and nothing else.
Surinder Sharma from Rohtak, who has a keen eye on Haryana politics, said, “Many of these independents were officially supported by the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which resulted in such a large number of independents winning. Had the party been with the Congress, the performance of the Congress would have been better.
But he says the decision comes two years before the Haryana assembly elections, and paints a hazy picture of what could happen. “Neither good news for the BJP-JJP nor for the Congress. Like in the 2019 assembly elections, the BJP-JJP managed to cross the finish line then, and they have managed to cross the finish line now. As far as Congress is concerned, it was less than the last line then, and now, considering that many independent candidates have won because of their support, it seems that they are the same organization than fighting political opponents. Indulging in more internal fighting.”
A former Haryana Congress leader has now put it with the BJP in an interesting way. Haryana State Child Welfare Council President Ranjit Mehta said, “Congress is claiming that many independents won with their support. And see, these so called Congress supported candidates will soon join BJP.