BJP poised to create history in Haryana elections: Survey

NEW DELHI (TIP): A new poll shows that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to score an outright win in the upcoming assembly election of Haryana on the back of a Modi wave. If it does win, it will be the first time for the BJP, which has had a poor record in assembly elections in the state (barring the period between 1977 and 1979 when it was a part of the Janata government in the state). The survey, conducted by Instavaani, a high-speed polling technology of the Bangalorebased Fourth Lion Technologies, reveals that prime minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to voters has carried over from the general election. To be sure, the poll was restricted to urban Haryana— the 2011 Census pegged the proportion of urban population in the state at 34.79%. Experts say that if the survey is any dipstick of BJP’s fortunes in state, it would be a unique win considering the party has no local face in the state, has been power at the centre for less than five months and has campaigned solely on the strength of the Modi brand. The BJP is facing off against the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Congress, the party that has ruled the state for 10 years and faces significant anti-incumbency, according to the experts. Instavaani polled 1,181 respondents in 20 urban constituencies of the state, and 46% of the respondents said they would vote for the BJP. While only 17% said they would vote for the incumbent Congress in the state, 10% claimed they would vote for Om Prakash Chautala-led INLD. Significantly, the survey was carried out on 8 October, a day after the prime minister completed all his election rallies in Haryana. According to the survey, corruption allegations against the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Haryana government and Modi’s election rallies (he has held over a dozen in the state) are the two main reasons for BJP’s “substantial margins” in the state. Experts concur. “The two factors— allegations of corruption against the Congress party and the effect of Modi’s rallies—fit very much into the narrative of the voter choices in the national elections. Even during national elections, our findings showed that people were not ready to trust the Congress,” said Manisha Priyam, a New Delhi-based political analyst. She is also the India coordinator of the London School of Economics’ EECURI (Explaining Electoral Change in Urban and Rural India) project. “In Haryana too, we are seeing something similar. The charges of corruption against the ruling state party are creating a mood for change and the BJP seems to be the only option which may benefit from it, given the INLD too is facing the same allegations as the Congress,” Priyam added. Chautala, a former chief minister, has been convicted and sentenced to a 10-year jail term in a corruption case involving the recruitment of teachers for government schools. He is campaigning while on bail for medical treatment. The survey also showed that voters in Haryana preferred the same party in the state and the centre. In the outgoing assembly, the Congress has 40 seats, INLD 31, the Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) six and the BJP only four. Haryana goes to polls on 15 October, with more than 16.31 million voters set to elect 90 legislators. The results will be announced on 19 October. Priyam added: “If the BJP wins these elections without a local leader in the state, that would be a tectonic shift in India. No political party, including the BJP, has ever won state elections without a local leader.”

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