Ahead of the October Assembly elections in Haryana, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has appointed Dr. Satish Punia and Rajya Sabha MP Surender Nagar as the incharge and co-incharge of the Haryana BJP, respectively. This announcement was made by BJP president JP Nadda as part of a pan-India release of incharges and co-incharges for state units. 

Dr. Satish Punia, who previously served as the BJP president of Rajasthan, will take over from Biplab Deb, the Tripura MP and former chief minister. 

If Elections Were Today… 

The timing of these appointments is crucial, as recent voting data at the Assembly segment level suggests a competitive race in Haryana. If elections were held today, the data indicates a split house, with the Opposition INDIA bloc likely emerging as the leading alliance. This prediction comes on the heels of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, where the BJP’s performance saw a significant decline. 

The party’s seat count dropped from a dominant position in 2019 to securing only five seats in the most recent elections, while the Congress matched this with five seats of their own. Moreover, the BJP’s vote share decreased from 58.21% to 46.11%, whereas the Congress saw an increase from 28.51% to 43.67%. 

Despite contesting only one seat, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) managed to raise its vote share from 0.36% to 3.94%, reflecting a growing influence in the region. 

Terrified From Strengthening Opposition 

In the Assembly segments, the BJP led in 44 out of 90 seats, closely followed by the Congress with leads in 42 seats, and the AAP in the remaining four seats. Neither the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) nor the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) led in any segments. 

This shows that the BJP would fall just short of the 46-seat majority mark needed to form a government. In contrast, the combined tallies of the Congress and AAP would grant the INDIA bloc a simple majority. However, the lack of an alliance between the Congress and AAP this time has provided the BJP with some breathing room. 

Balancing Caste Equations 

The caste equations play a vital role in Haryana politics, which explains why the leading contenders go out of their way to balance them in the run-up to the polls. In Haryana, OBCs account for the largest chunk of voters at about 30%, followed by Jats at nearly 25%, and the Scheduled Castes (SCs) at about 20%. To effectively target the OBC community, the BJP has appointed Satish Punia as the co-incharge for the Haryana elections. 

As the election date approaches, Punia and Nagar’s roles will be critical in shaping the party’s strategy and execution on the ground.