Gurugram: Haryana Deputy Chief Minister and leader of the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) Dushyant Chautala is navigating a political tightrope with the BJP in poll-bound Rajasthan.
The JJP’s first list of six candidates for the Rajasthan elections, released late Monday evening, seemed to leave the door open for a possible alliance with the BJP, its Haryana partner, as it refrained from naming candidates in seats where the BJP had already done so, barring one.
However, Chautala’s party intends to contest 25-30 out of 200 seats in Rajasthan, which could ruffle BJP’s feathers if it ends up playing spoiler.
In its first list, the JJP has nominated candidates for Suratgarh, Fatehpur, Danta Ramgarh, Khandela, Kotputali, and Bharatpur assembly seats. The BJP is yet to name its candidates for these constituencies except for Danta Ramgarh, where it is fielding Gajanand Kumawat.
“We have taken a decision to contest 25 to 30 seats in the upcoming Rajasthan elections. The first list was released because we wanted to announce it during the holy Navratri. The candidates for the other seats will be announced very soon,” Chautala said over the phone Monday. He had just returned to Chandigarh following a visit to Rajasthan, where he has been hot on the campaign trail, particularly in the rural Jat belt.
“We have a large following in Rajasthan, so it is natural for our party, which claims (great-grandfather) Chaudhary Devi Lal’s political legacy and is named after him— Jannayak— to contest the state assembly elections,” he said.
On the possibility of the JJP forging an alliance with the BJP for the Rajasthan polls, Chautala had a terse reply: “No comments”.
He did, however, claim that the JJP held the “key”— which happens to be the party’s symbol — to the Rajasthan assembly.
A senior JJP functionary explained that just as the party holds the key to the 90-member Haryana Assembly with its 10 seats, it will wield a similar position in Rajasthan once the election results are declared.
ThePrint tried to contact BJP’s co-in-charges for Rajasthan, Kuldeep Bishnoi and Nitin Patel, for comment, but the calls went unanswered.
It’s worth noting that the BJP-JJP alliance in Haryana has been strained for some time.
In July, Haryana BJP chief Om Prakash Dhankar had told ThePrint that it was an “alliance of compulsion” and that the parties would contest separately in the 2024 Lok Sabha and Haryana assembly elections. Then, earlier this month, former Union minister Birender Singh announced that he would quit the BJP if it continued the alliance with the JJP.
Is JJP muddying waters for BJP in Rajasthan?
Dushyant Chautala, who has an agrarian Jat vote base in Haryana, is now also positioning himself as a leader of farmers in Rajasthan.
However, the jury is out on whether the JJP can harm the interests of the BJP or the Congress in the Rajasthan assembly polls.
Political analyst Yoginder Gupta said that the situation could go in multiple ways.
He pointed out that in past elections, Jats and Rajputs have not typically voted for the same party— if Rajputs vote for the BJP in large numbers, Jats are more likely to vote for the Congress, and vice versa.
“If the JJP manages to exhibit a good show in Rajasthan, the BJP’s central leadership can think of taking the party along in the next year’s parliamentary polls. But if Dushyant Chautala’s party merely ends up harming the BJP’s vote percentage, the alliance may become untenable in Haryana,” Gupta said.
JJP’s Rajasthan foray so far
Dushyant Chautala spoke to ThePrint at length about his family’s deep links with Rajasthan, right from the time of his great-grandfather, Janata Dal leader Chaudhary Devi Lal.
“Chaudhary Devi Lal won the Sikar assembly seat in 1989 and went on to be nominated as the prime minister by the Janta Dal parliamentary party. It is another matter that he left the PM’s chair for VP Singh and became his deputy PM,” Chautala said.
He added that his father Ajay Singh Chautala also became MLA from the Danta Ramgarh seat in Sikar in 1990 and then Nohar in 1993.
Chautala claimed that the JJP had influence over several seats in the state, especially in Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Sikar, Churu, and Bharatpur districts. Together, these four parliamentary seats have 32 assembly seats.
In the Bharatpur parliamentary constituency, the JJP has declared Dr Mohan Singh as its candidate for the Bharatpur assembly seat. Among the remaining seven assembly seats in this constituency, the BJP has nominated Dr. Shailesh Singh for Deeg-Khumer, Jawahar Singh Bedam for Nagar, and Bahadur Singh Koli for Weir.
For the eight seats within the Churu parliamentary constituency, the BJP has already put forward candidates, including Sanjeev Beniwal for Bhadra, Abhishek Matoria for Nohar, Rajender Rathore for Taranagar, Harlal Saharan for Churu, and Abhinesh Maharishi for Ratangarh.
Notably, the BJP’s Nohar candidate, Abhishek Matoria, is the brother-in-law of Dushyant Chautala’s estranged uncle and Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala.
Matoria was elected as the Nohar MLA in 2008 and 2013, but lost to the Congress candidate Amit Chachan in the 2018 election.
The Nohar seat is especially important to the JJP too as Dushyant’s father also held it in the past.
In the Sikar parliamentary constituency, the JJP has announced candidates for three seats so far— Dr Rita Singh from Danta Ramgarh, Nand Kishore from Fatehpur, and Sardar Singh Arya from Khandela.
The BJP, on the other hand, is fielding Subhash Mahria from Lachhmangarh, Goverdhan Verma from Dhod, Prem Singh Baijore from Neem Ka Thana, Jhabar Singh Khara from Srimadhopur, and Ram Lal Sharma from Chomu.
Within the Ganganagar parliamentary segment, the JJP has named a candidate for just one of the nine assembly segments— Prithvi Raj Meel from Suratgarh.
In contrast, the BJP has already unveiled its candidates for five seats— Jaideep Bihani for Ganganagar, Balvir Singh Luthra for Raisinghnagar, Santosh Bawari for Anupgarh, Gurdeep Singh Shahpini for Sangaria, and Dharmender Mochi for Pilibanga.
The Kotputli seat, for which the JJP has announced Ram Niwas Yadav as its candidate, falls under the Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha constituency.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)