Nationalism, Article 370: How Khattar plans to trump caste arithmetic again in Haryana

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Published: September 1, 2019 5:08:35 PM

He asserted it was the Congress's opposition to this "nationalistic step" that made it a talking point and an issue among the general public of the country, especially in Haryana.

The BJP came to power on its own Haryana for the first time in 2014. It won 47 seats with a vote share of 33.2 per cent.

The overwhelming support for the abrogation of Article 370 has broken all caste barriers in Haryana and the BJP’s popularity has soared across all sections ahead of the assembly election, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has said. Nationalism runs in the veins of the people of Haryana as youngsters from every village of the state serve in defence forces and this spirit will help the BJP defeat the caste-based politics propagated by the Congress and other opposition parties, he said. “When a martyr’s mortal remains are brought back to his village, nobody asks about his caste…. Nationalism will be the deciding factor in the coming assembly elections. It has thrown caste arithmetic out of picture,” he said.

Assembly elections in Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra are slated for later this year. Describing the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution as a landmark decision, Khattar, in an interview to PTI during his ongoing statewide Rath Yatra, said, “After abrogation of Article 370, the admiration of BJP and its leadership has further increased in Haryana and across the country.” He said people from cross sections of the society are applauding the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this bold step and added that even “those who were critical of the party are now standing with it on this issue.” Taking on the opposition, Khattar said, “Even on the issues of national interest, the opposition is keen on doing politics and they vehemently opposed the abrogation of Article 370, which exposed the real face of the Congress and other opposition parties.”

He asserted it was the Congress’s opposition to this “nationalistic step” that made it a talking point and an issue among the general public of the country, especially in Haryana. Asked about some Congress leaders, including former Harayan chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, coming out in support of the Modi government’s decision by going against the party line, Khattar said, “Vipaksh bhi behti ganga mein hath dhone ki koshish kar rahe hain (The opposition is trying to take advantage of the move considering people’s sentiments).” Khattar termed the upcoming assembly election in Haryana a direct contest between the BJP’s honest politics based on nationalism and the opposition’s caste-based politics.

On a question about the BJP having advantage due to divisions in both the Congress and the INLD, two major opposition parties in the state, the chief minister said, “People prefer stability over chaos.” Unlike the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the BJP has given a stable, honest and development-oriented government in the past five years without indulging in favouritism and nepotism, he said. Talking about prospects of the party’s win in the assembly elections, Khattar said BJP workers have set a target of winning more than 75 seats in the 90-member assembly and going by the party’s performance in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections, it is achievable.

Seeking a second term in office, Khattar has started the ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ from Kalka on August 18. The Rath Yatra will conclude in Rohtak on September 8 after crisscrossing the state. The BJP came to power on its own Haryana for the first time in 2014. It won 47 seats with a vote share of 33.2 per cent. The BJP’s vote share in 2019 Lok Sabha elections jumped to more than 58 per cent in the state and it won all 10 parliamentary constituencies.

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