With more than one lakh members and increasing, offices in eighteen out of the 21 districts, and the state’s very own Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav to campaign, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) certainly looks like the harbinger of the much-needed political change in Haryana.
But is the AAP good enough to turn the tables on the likes of Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Om Prakash Chautala and Kuldeep Bishnoi, stalwarts of the politics of caste, and regionalism?
The biggest challenges before the AAP are: getting confidence of both the Jats and the non-Jats, promises on law & order issues pertaining to the atrocities on Dalits, and honour killings which could easily offend khap panchayats, and Jat-Yadav differences which is the biggest impediment in case the AAP fields Yogendra Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate. It would be extremely hard for the party to find common solution to all these issues.
The things which are in favour of the party are anti-incumbency factor against the corrupt Bhupender Singh Hooda government, which has been further weakened by party leaders like Kumari Selja and Chaudhary Birender Singh, the absence of a potential leader in the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) if the court doesn’t permit Om Prakash Chautala to contest the elections and the youth who cutting across the lines of caste and creed, are beleaguered by rampant corruption and unemployment.
“We know the challenges and but we also have fathomed the discontent among the masses — be it a farmer whose land has been acquired at a cheaper rate and has been sold to builder at a much higher price or the youth who is unemployed because no one can get a government job in the state without bribing the cronies of the CM. Yes, caste and region issues are there but I think we would be able to galvanize a pan Haryana consensus in support of the party,” said Amina Sherwani, member of the AAP’s Haryana executive council.
According to sources, the falling standards of education, problems of farmers, land acquisition and women empowerment are some of the main issues which would feature in the AAP agenda for assembly election scheduled for October this year.
Haryana has 90 assembly seats, 20 of which fall in districts Bhiwani, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonepat that are believed to be the bastions of Bhupender Singh Hooda. Sirsa and Hissar districts, which have 11 assembly seats, is a Chautala stronghold and has been impregnable till now. The rest of Haryana is divided between these two big parties.
“The AAP certainly has made inroads, but till now it centres around the urban pockets and the rural pockets are still out of its reach. The INLD is perhaps the only answer to Hooda government’s anarchic rule. I don’t think the AAP would play a deciding role,” said Gopi Chand Gehlot, former speaker and senior INLD leader.
Acording to sources, Yogendra Yadav could be fielded as the chief ministerial candidate by the party if he doesn’t contest the Lok Sabha election from Gurgaon which he seems keen on. Except Bhagwat Dayal Sharma, Rao Birender Singh and Bhajan Lal, Haryana has never seen a non-Jat chief minister. And if the AAP fields Yadav as CM candidate, it would get votes in plenty in the Yadav belt in southern Haryana but the rest of Haryana dominated by Jats may look for other option because having a Jat CM has been a fashion in the Jatland.