BJP faces many challenges in Haryana, will Satish Punia be able to help the party sail through the assembly elections?

Ahead of the assembly elections in Haryana in October, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has appointed Dr Satish Punia and Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Nagar as in-charge and co-in-charge of Haryana BJP respectively. The announcement was made by BJP president JP Nadda as part of an all-India release of in-charges and co-in-charges for state units. Satish Punia, who previously served as Rajasthan BJP president, will replace Tripura MP and former chief minister Biplab Deb.

The timing of these appointments is significant, as recent polling data at the assembly constituency level suggests a competitive race in Haryana. If elections were held today, the data indicates a divided house, with the opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam likely to emerge as the dominant alliance. This prediction comes after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, where the BJP’s performance saw a significant decline. The party’s seat tally declined from a dominant position in 2019 to only five seats in the recent elections, while the Congress matched it with its five seats. Moreover, the BJP’s vote share declined from 58.21% to 46.11%, while the Congress’ vote share increased from 28.51% to 43.67%.

In the assembly constituencies, the BJP led in 44 of the 90 seats, followed by the Congress in 42 seats, and the AAP in the remaining four. Neither the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) nor the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) were ahead in any region. This suggests that the BJP will fall just short of the majority figure of 46 seats needed to form the government. In contrast, the combined numbers of the Congress and the AAP will give the India Bloc a simple majority. However, the lack of an alliance between the Congress and the AAP this time has given the BJP some relief.

Caste equations play a crucial role in Haryana politics, which explains why the major contenders make every effort to balance them ahead of the elections. In Haryana, OBCs constitute the largest share of voters at around 30%, followed by Jats at around 25% and Scheduled Castes (SCs) at around 20%. To effectively target the OBC community, the BJP has appointed Satish Punia as co-in-charge for the Haryana elections. As the election date approaches, the role of Punia and Nagar will be crucial in shaping the party’s strategy and implementation on the ground.

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