Meet Haryana BJP Chief Subhash Barala Under Fire Over Chandigarh Stalking Case
When Subhash Barala was appointed state BJP chief, the move surprised many. He was, after all, a first-time MLA. He had contested and lost the state Assembly election twice, before finally winning in 2014.
The Haryana BJP chief, Subhash Barala, during a press conference on Wednesday. (CNN-News18 screen grab)
New Delhi: Few outside Haryana and Chandigarh knew Subhash Barala, Haryana BJP President, till his son Vikas was accused of stalking and trying to kidnap a DJ in Chandigarh.
Barala first shot into the limelight when he was appointed the President of the Haryana BJP unit in 2014. Not much else is known about him. If that says something, his Wikipedia page is just two sentences long.
When Barala was appointed state BJP chief, the move surprised many. He was, after all, a first-time MLA. He had contested and lost the state Assembly election twice, before finally winning in 2014. In the 2005 polls, he finished a distant third in the Tohana constituency behind the INLD and Congress candidates and managed just 19,353 votes. In 2009, his performance was even worse and he finished fourth with 11,587 votes.
According to sources, Barala was picked as the state BJP chief owing to his lineage as a Jat leader. This was done to balance the scales after Manohar Lal Khattar became the first non-Jat Chief Minister of Haryana. Over the course of his tenure as Haryana CM, Khattar has had to bear the brunt of Jat agitation.
A senior BJP leader said the party was wary of offending the Jat community in Haryana by suddenly removing Barala from the position the party’s state unit president.
During the 2017 UP elections, BJP President Amit Shah had to personally intervene to ensure that Jat community voted for the party, particularly in Western UP. “This time, the party doesn’t want to upset this delicate balance,” a source said.
For local residents of Tohana, however, Barala has been missing in action. “He adopted my village and said he would transform it into a model village. When he had come here in 2014, the locals had presented him with a crown made of silver. We had high hopes. Since then, he has only come to the village twice and no work has happened here. He has no mass base here. He only won because Dera Sacha Sauda supported the BJP and most people liked Modi at that time. He has no presence of his own. He was only made state president because of his caste credentials,” said a resident of Dhani Sanchla village, which Barala had ‘adopted’ in 2014.
Another reason the party chose Barala as state president was his background as an RSS worker. “He (Barala) joined the RSS at time when the Sangh did not have much of a presence in Haryana. In 2005, he sought a BJP ticket when nobody sought one. Amit Shah has been known to appoint RSS men in high places. Look at Khattar, he is an example,” said a source, who knows Barala closely.
But why is the party continuing to stand by Barala, despite the Haryana BJP chief being dogged by his son’s controversy? A BJP leader said, “The BJP’s Jat bigwigs in Haryana are ministers — Captain Abhimanyu and OP Dhankar in Haryana and Chaudhary Birendra Singh at the Centre. These are the only people senior enough to be state president and they are all ministers. However, Amit Shah is unpredictable. He can pick anybody.”
But will the Vikas Barala controversy affect his father? The Dhani Sanchla resident says, “I don’t know about the rest of Haryana, but this will definitely become an issue in Tohana. Earlier, even his nephew was caught in a similar act. Besides, he has not cultivated goodwill here. Agli baar inki zamanat zabt hogi (Next time, he will lose his deposit in election).”
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