Sounding the poll bugle, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will address a grand public rally in Haryana’s Jind district ahead of the assembly elections due later this year.
The call for “Astha Rally” was given by former union minister and Rajya Sabha, MP Chaudhary Birender Singh and was convened by his son, Brijender Singh, the Lok Sabha MP from Hisar.
Apart from chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Shah's rally will also be attended by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma.
According to sources, equations between Birender Singh and Manohar Lal have been strained lately, and by bringing Shah to his home turf to kick-start BJP’s poll campaign, the former union steel minister has staged a coup of sorts in Haryana.
Last year, too, the tall Jat leader had managed to get Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the Jat-dominated region ahead of the scheduled programme, to unveil the statue of his maternal grandfather and peasant leader, Chhotu Ram at Garhi Sampla in Rohtak.
In the 2014 assembly elections, the Jat voters, had remained loyal to their traditional parties Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Congress. The BJP, however, came to power for the first time in the state on the backing of the non-Jat voters.
During the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP performed exceptionally well and won all the 10 seats in the state. The party almost doubled its vote percentage in Haryana from the last time. In 2014, the saffron party had scored 34.84 per cent votes winning seven seats, and this time the vote share has jumped to 58.02 per cent.
At the same time the INLD lost its base, with its vote share dipping drastically to 1.89 per cent from 24.43 per cent, five years ago when it had won two seats. The INLD’s missing vote share – mainly Jats - had probably migrated to the BJP. The Congress, too, had managed to improve its vote share.
What was even more gratifying for CM Manohar Lal, is that the party secured a lead in 83 of the 90 assembly segments in the state.
More importantly, the BJP turned all the caste equations in the state into its favour. While it further cemented its non-Jat base, the Jat voters switched sides, a trend which was a major cause of concern for the Congress and INLD.