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View: Behind JJP's move to ally with BJP, the aim is to end a 14-year long power drought for Chautalas

By supporting the BJP, JJP has taken a complete u-turn on its stand during the campaign when it vowed not to support the BJP post the results. Both Dushyant Chautala and his mother had made public statements saying they would never support the BJP.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 26, 2019, 01.40 PM IST
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Haryana---bccl
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala during a press conference in New Delhi .
NEW DELHI: 14 years out of power is a long time in politics, especially for the Chautala family which once ruled the state for years. The Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) was born out of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) earlier this year to get a shot at power after long. That seems to have been the main concern that prompted the Dushyant Chautala-led JJP to make the surprising move to join the BJP government in Haryana and accept a Deputy Chief Minister post and a couple of other ministerial berths in the state.

By doing so though, JJP has taken a complete u-turn on its stand during the campaign when it vowed not to support the BJP post the results. Both Dushyant Chautala and his mother Naina Chautala during the poll campaign made public statements saying they would never support the BJP post the results in order to form the government. Dushyant in fact even appealed to the public to not fall for such "rumours" - in what seemed a clear message to the party's core Jat voters to rally behind the JJP which portrayed itself as the main challenger in polls to the BJP, rather than the Congress.

However, post the results with Congress stopping short at 31 seats, JJP with 10 seats was not in a position to form a non-BJP government and took a recourse towards the BJP. Sitting in the opposition for five more years with 10 MLAs is something the JJP did not opt for. The move will obviously run afoul of the Jat voters in the state who voted for JJP in the hope to stop a non-Jat in Manohar Lal from becoming the CM again. Dushyant Chautala will be the Deputy Chief Minister now and the JJP would project this as an affirmation that a Jat leader will be sitting in a senior position of power.

It remains to be seen if the Jat voter would be fine with a Jat leader working under a non-Jat CM - these elections saw the Jat voter punishing such an arrangement as BJP's senior-most Jat face and state finance minister Captain Abhimanyu lost the polls. In 2014, Jats expected Abhimanyu to be the CM face of the BJP and the party won 47 seats in the state but BJP chose Manohar Lal for the chair. This seems to have reflected in the result this time as voters in the Jat belt decided not to vote for BJP whose tally fell to 40 seats.

The arrangement, however, is a win-all for the BJP. One, the government gets far more stability with 57 MLAs now as depending just on the seven independents would have kept the government on tenter-hooks. The independents would have demanded ministerial berths too and their bargaining power now stands a bit dwindled. Two, the BJP would hope it placates the Jats as JJP gets a share in the power and the alliance is projected as one which "respects the spirit of the mandate", as Amit Shah put it.

Having a non-Jat CM and a young Jat Deputy CM seems the perfect arrangement in the state known for harmony among its "36 Biradari" (36 communities), makes political sense for BJP despite Manohar Lal having to share power now with Dushyant Chautala, and gives a shot at power to JJP a full 14 years after Dushyant's grand-father Om Prakash Chautala's INLD government went out of power in 2005. How the voter percieves it, however, remains the big question in Haryana.

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