BJP-JJP government in Haryana: Early cracks visible in the alliance?

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Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar (centre) along with Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana Dushyant Chautala (right) and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (left).
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar (centre) along with Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana Dushyant Chautala (right) and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (left).

Just after the revolt of JJP MLA Ram Kumar Gautam, another MLA supporting the BJP government Balraj Kundu has also sounded a bugle within three months of the formation of BJP-JJP alliance government. Is it too early to say that the alliance is treading a rough path or the opposition party leaders are deliberately stretching a small issue to make some quick points?

Sometimes bad luck of one turns into a favourable opportunity for the other. BJP not getting a full majority in October 2019 Haryana Assembly elections provided new political wings to the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) in the murky political scenario of the state. The over confident state BJP had declared its target of 75 plus seats out of 90 in Haryana Vidhan Sabha, but failed to read the ground report. When election results were declared, it came crashing to the ground with just 40 seats out of total 90. The main opposition party congress got 31 seats, the newly formed JJP 10 seats, whereas the independents and others succeeded in getting 9 seats. With clever political maneuvering BJP’s Manohar Lal Khattar once again got the King’s crown and JJP in lieu of its kingmaker’s role got the Deputy CM post for its field supremo Dushyant Chautala.

With the initial euphoria now over and time has come to fulfil the poll promises, the alliance seems to be entering into a rough patch and the going might get tough for both the alliance parties. Generally, during the elections tall promises are made to woo the voters, and most of them never gets implemented on the ground. To win the political fight in Haryana, JJP made 160 promises in its manifesto during the elections. Due to paucity of funds and other restrictions many of these promises can’t be implemented. JJP knew this beforehand, but it promised them just to attract the voters. Perhaps, they never thought of getting the power share so soon. Now their own promises have put BJP-JJP alliance in a dilemma. Both partners have made nearly 400 promises, out of which 70 are common and are being considered for their Common Minimum Programme (CMP).

JJP’s some major promises included, increase in the monthly old age pension from the existing Rs 2,000 to 5,100, lowering down of eligibility age for the old age pension from present 60 years to 55 for women and 58 for males, to reserve 75% of jobs for the local youth which constitute a sizeable chunk of nearly 1.83 crore voters of the state, to give a monthly assistance of Rs 11,000 per month to unemployed youth, students from rural areas to be given extra ten marks when they appear in competitive examinations in the state, for farmers, a bonus of 10% or Rs 100 to  be given over MSP, minimum wages to be fixed at Rs 16,000 and waiving off the loans taken by farmers from the cooperative banks.

Interestingly, 823811 farmers in Haryana are yet to repay the loans amounting Rs.3748 crore as on 31 December, 2019 to the cooperative banks in the state even after the recovery. Haryana Cooperation Minister, Banwari Lal, while  announcing the last date of ‘One Time Settlement Scheme’ till January 31, 2020 for the loanee members and farmers, who have an account with cooperative banks to facilitate the members and farmers to take advantage of the scheme, told  that the total amount of short term loan of Harco Bank is about Rs 3091 crore and there are about 6,99,804 beneficiaries, out of which Rs 1136.36 crore has been recovered from 2,51,481 beneficiaries till 31 December 2019.  He also added that the total loan amount of District Central Co-operative Banks is about Rs 608 crores and there are about 31749 beneficiaries, out of which an amount of Rs 150.74 crores has been recovered from about 6925 beneficiaries till 31 December 2019. He further informed that the Land Mortgage Bank has a total of 92258 indebted beneficiaries and a total loan amount of Rs.1577.75 crores, out of which an amount of Rs.242.18 crores has been recovered from 9151 indebted beneficiaries till January 2, 2020.

Haryana Power and Jail minister Ranjit Singh divulged while addressing media persons during the first bijli panchayat in Hisar on Jan 05, 2020, “The total pending amount is Rs. 2,900 crore, of which Rs. 95 crore is of farmers using tubewells. We are meeting the panchayat members of villages that are on the defaulters’ list and will ask them how they will pay the amount.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the farmers had stopped the repayment of loans and electricity bills believing on the waiver promises of different political parties. During this assembly election, JJP and Congress both had made farmers’ loans and electricity bills as election issues. During the assembly election campaign, Congress leader and former chief minister of Haryana, Bhupender Singh Hooda had alleged that due to wrong policies of BJP government Haryana  had  become a debt ridden state. In a tweet on October 15,2019, Hooda alleged, “BJP government had emptied the state treasury and burdened the state with a loan of Rs. 164076 Crore during BJP’s five year tenure from 2014 to 2019, whereas during   the 48 years regime from 1966 to 2014 the state availed of a debt of Rs.76263 Crore.”

To start with, the alliance declared implementation of its first promise of enhancement of old age and widow pension from present Rs. 2000 per month to Rs. 2250 by giving an increase of just Rs. 250 per month. Recently, Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on January 3, announced an increase in all monthly social security pensions, including the old age pension, from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 2,250.

However, BJP’s power partner, JJP had promised an ambitious increase in the monthly old age pension from the existing Rs 2,000 to Rs. 5100, whereas the BJP itself had promised  to increase the old age pension to Rs. 3,000 per month during the assembly election campaign. If we consider this increase of Rs. 250 per month as a routine yearly increase on the lines of previous yearly increase of Rs. 200 per year by BJP led government, then the question arises about JJP’s promise. what the JJP did? Did JJP succeed in getting an increase of Rs. 50 only as its share?

Commenting on the increase, Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda reacted on January,03, “The BJP-JJP alliance government has given a lollypop to the public by just enhancing old age pension from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 2250 against a promise of Rs. 5100. The public will never forgive the alliance government for this betrayal. Is this the common minimum programme?”

Another Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala took a dig at the BJP-JJP coalition government in Haryana and said their common minimum programme had become “common mess of parties”. “Neither any farm debt was waived, nor old age pension of Rs 5,100 was given. Though JJP did got 11 departments and the BJP managed to retain the power, but what 2.50 crore population of Haryana got,” Surjewala asked.

Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Singh Chautala termed the pension increase as ‘a drop in the ocean’ and questioned JJP leaders, without naming them, “Where are those, who were claiming to extend Rs. 5100 per month pension to the old age citizens?”

However, JJP is still appreciating the step. Speaking to the media in Bhiwani on January 4, JJP supremo and Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala said, “The Old age pension got an increase of just Rs. 700 in 10 years rule of the congress in the state, whereas the BJP-JJP alliance government has given an enhancement of Rs. 250 in just 67 days.” He claimed that during these 67 days, the BJP-JJP alliance government has fulfilled four promises of JJP manifesto and three from BJP manifesto under the common minimum programme.  

However, political analysts calculate that getting the tall promises implemented as part of the common minimum programme will not be a cake walk for JJP. Moreover, political expediency will never allow the BJP to fulfill the manifesto promises made by JJP. BJP clearly knows if JJP succeeds in getting its agenda implemented, it will be nothing less than digging its own grave in the state. A slight enhancement in the old age pension, against a high pitch promise of Rs. 5100 of JJP, is an indication of downsizing the JJP.

While at Rohtak on January 6, INLD supremo and former Chief Minister of Haryana, Om Prakash Chautala predicting the possibility of mid-term polls for the state said that BJP-JJP alliance government will fall on its own very soon. Exhorting the workers, Chautala said, “I urge you all to get ready for mid-term polls for Haryana assembly, because many MLAs of the ruling alliance are not happy and they will topple the government any time.”

Supporting the INLD supremo’s prediction, Leader of Opposition in Haryana assembly and former CM Bhupender Hooda said, on the same day, “If Chautala had stated so, he must have made this observation after having a proper analysis of the situation. No possibility can be ruled out in politics.”

This might be too early to predict the political discourse in the state, but one can smell the brewing problem in the alliance.

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