New Delhi: Elections to Haryana’s 10 Lok Sabha seats will be held on 12 May, the penultimate stage of the seven-phase 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power in the state, where the voter turnout was 71.4% in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Mint decodes the political dynamics of the state.

What is the social structure of the state?

Jats, a land-owning class comprising around 30% of the state’s population, are the most dominant community. The state has a highly patriarchal society where the plight of women has been and still is, in certain regions, pitiable. Female infanticide in districts such as Mahendragarh, Rewari, Sonipat and Jhajjar was among the highest in the country, but they have all improved in the last two-three years. The state’s sex ratio improved to 914 in 2017 from 876 in 2015. A great paradox, but along with Kerala—the most progressive state on all social parameters—Haryana is renowned for its women excelling in sports.

What is the political framework?

Haryana has gifted a memorable phrase to Indian politics, “aaya Ram, gaya Ram". A humorous and yet a telling commentary, it refers to a turncoat and is inspired by a member of the state’s legislature, Gaya Lal, changing parties thrice within a fortnight in 1967. Considering that Jats dominate the state’s politics, it is difficult for them to accept a non-Jat as a chief minister—the current CM is a Punjabi. Haryana, like Punjab, is home to self-styled godmen such as Rampal and Guru Ram Rahim Singh Ji, who have a dedicated following and can influence voting. Both Rampal and Ram Rahim are in jail.

Which are the main political parties?

BJP, Congress and Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) are the three main parties. The Jannayak Janta Party and the Aam Aadmi Party have formed an alliance.

What are the main issues for voters?

For Jats, it is reservation. They say the BJP government in the state did not do enough in the apex court to defend the 10% quota given to them. The initial move to give Jats quota had angered the non-Jats, particularly the Sainis, a large influential OBC community. Jats have traditionally backed the Congress or INLD, and BJP has mostly tried to consolidate non-Jat votes. Infighting in the Congress and INLD and splitting of votes along caste lines may help BJP counter the anger over lack of jobs and farm distress.

Who are the big names in the poll fray?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son Deepender Singh Hooda are Congress’ star candidates from Sonipat and Rohtak, respectively. Kumari Selja is fighting on the party’s ticket from Ambala, a reserved seat. BJP’s Rao Inderjit Singh will contest from Gurugram. BJP rebel and Loktantra Suraksha Party founder Rajkumar Saini is a candidate in Kurukshetra. Bhavya Bishnoi, son of Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi, is up against Union minister Birender Singh’s son Brijendra and current MP Dushyant Chautala in Hisar.

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