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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 July 2024

Key Haryana Congress duo jump ship and join the BJP amid damage-control efforts by the latter

Jat boost as saffron party gears up for polls in 3 states

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 20.06.24, 05:19 AM
Kiran Choudhary (second from left) after joining the BJP in New Delhi on Wednesday

Kiran Choudhary (second from left) after joining the BJP in New Delhi on Wednesday PTI picture

Two key Haryana Congress leaders on Wednesday jumped ship and joined the BJP amid hectic review and damage-control efforts by the saffron party in three poll-bound states where its performance in the Lok Sabha elections had rung alarm bells.

Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand are due for polls between October and December and the central BJP has been holding marathon meetings to review the reasons behind the party's poor Lok Sabha poll performance there and identify “corrective measures”.

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Against this backdrop, four-time Congress MLA from Haryana’s Tosham, Kiran Choudhary, and her daughter Shruti Choudhary, a former MP from the state, joined the BJP on Wednesday. The two cross-overs were projected as a shift of a “big support base” from the Congress to the BJP in the poll-bound state.

The mother and daughter hail from the family of a strong Jat leader — former Haryana chief minister Bansi Lal. The BJP does not have any prominent Jat leader from the state and the party’s dismal performance in Haryana in the Lok Sabha polls has been attributed to anger of the dominant farmers’ community. The BJP could win just five seats in Haryana, where it had swept all 10 seats in 2019.

“These two leaders from the Bansi Lal family joining the BJP means a big support base has also come with them,” BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh said at a media address at the party headquarters. Top party leaders from Haryana, including former chief minister and now Union minister Manohar Lal Khattar and current chief minister Nayab Singh Saini, were present to welcome Kiran and Shruti.

The BJP’s hopes of retaining power in Haryana rest on the division of Jat votes and party strategists feel that with Bansi Lal family members on their side, a large chunk of the community's votes would shift towards them. The Jats have been angry with the BJP over various demands of farmers and also the Agnipath recruitment scheme in the armed forces.

Apart from Haryana, the BJP is also concerned about retaining power in Maharashtra and defeating the JMM-led alliance in Jharkhand. Party chief J.P. Nadda and home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday held long meetings with leaders of these two states to review the Lok Sabha poll results and prepare the strategy for the Assembly elections.

“We held a detailed review of the Lok Sabha results, identified corrective measures and discussed the strategy for the Assembly polls,” Maharashtra BJP leader and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after the meeting.

A similar review meeting was held for Jharkhand. Though in Jharkhand the BJP’s performance was better compared to Maharashtra (the BJP won eight while partner AJSU one of the total 14 seats), the defeat in all the five tribal reserved seats has spread concern in the party. BJP leaders said that the tribals had been a core base of the party in Jharkhand and the reasons for the setback in those seats were discussed at the meeting.

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