The ongoing farmer protest in Delhi seems to have had an effect on the municipal by-elections in Haryana as the ruling BJP-JJP alliance suffered a setback.
The alliance lost two of the three mayoral seats and three municipal committee president’s posts in the elections. The by-elections were held on December 27 in three major cities and four towns of Haryana.
The BJP won in Panchkula where its mayoral candidate Kulbhushan Goyal defeated Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia of the Congress by a slender margin of 2,057 votes.
The Congress won Sonepat Municipal Corporation, a Jat-dominated area. Former CM and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s confidant Nikhil Madaan became Sonepat Mayor, defeating Lalit Batra of the BJP by 13,817 votes.
In Ambala, former Union minister Venod Sharma’s wife Shakti Rani Sharma (Haryana Jan Chetna Party) defeated BJP’s Vandana Sharma by 8,084 votes. The BJP won the lone Rewari municipal council seat where its nominee Poonam Yadav was elected president.
Independents bagged the top posts in the municipal committee elections in Sampla, Dharuhera and Uklana. The BJP-JJP won 11 of the 20 municipal councillor seats in Panchkula, 10 of the 20 in Sonepat and eight of the 20 in Ambala. JJP failed to win even a single seat in this election.
Also read: Farm law protests: Fear of rout, farmers’ wrath divide Haryana NDA leaders
Rohtas Nagura, a political analyst based out of Haryana, said, “The mandate was clearly against the BJP-JJP due to the farmers’ agitation. There is an environment of mistrust among the people against the alliance.”
Nagura added, “The civic polls are generally won by a party ruling the state. The results are being seen as a blow to the coalition government about a year after it came to power. The biggest loser among all is the JJP, which presented itself as a farmers and Jat party, but is now reduced to only a party aligned with the BJP.”
Haryana BJP chief OP Dhankar denied the charge that the alliance lost because of farmers’ protest. “Of the seven civic bodies where elections were held, we had our MLAs only in Panchkula and Ambala. Moreover, our candidate won in Rewari, which is represented by the Congress in the Assembly,” he said.
Last month, Congress candidate Indu Raj Narwal defeated his nearest rival and BJP nominee Yogeshwar Dutt in the Baroda Assembly seat with a margin of over 10,000 votes.
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Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda claimed the mandate was “clearly against the BJP-JJP coalition”. Talking to media, Hooda said that after the Baroda by-election, the people of Sonepat have given a “befitting reply” to the coalition government in this municipal elections.
Nagura said, “There is a sense of anger among the people of Haryana. They have boycotted the BJP-JJP even from entering their villages because of the farm laws. The result is not a surprise as the people of Haryana want to remove the BJP-JJP from everywhere. The pressure is on the JJP to cut off ties with the BJP.”
Also read: Farm laws unite Punjab, Haryana farmers divided over Satluj-Yamuna link
The government and farmer leaders had a constructive round of talks on Wednesday (December 30), after the initial five rounds of discussions failed to bear results.
There was “mutual consensus” on two demands of farm unions raised in earlier rounds of talks — exclusion of farmers from the purview of the NCR air quality ordinance and changes in the provisions of the Draft Electricity Bill ensuring security on power subsidy.
The vexed issues of MSP guarantee and repeal of the farm laws will be discussed in the next round of talks.