“What’s there for us, the people of Haryana, in scrapping of Article 370?” asked a daily wage labourer, while speaking about his vote. It was a cloudy afternoon and the Gurugram’s Kamala Nehru Park was filled with scores of workers who were not lucky enough to secure a job in the nearby Labour Chowk. Some had put their feet up, while others were trying their luck, one more time, in a game of cards. It is here, away from the party pamphlets and the noise of TV debates, that the voters in Haryana wonder which candidate to choose in the upcoming state Assembly elections.
The state of Haryana is all set to go to polls on October 21. The battle is for 90 Assembly seats and the majority will be decided by about 1.83 crore eligible voters. With ‘Mission 75 plus’, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is aiming to retain power in the state; however, there is no smooth road to that mark as the major opposition players such as Congress, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) among others have all geared up to anchor on the state government's letdowns in the last five years.
The BJP will be cashing in on the abrogation of the Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Haryana, which translates to the saffron party rowing over the subject of nationalism—once again. A Jan Jagran Abhiyan (public awareness campaign) will be launched supporting the development in J&K. As part of this programme, the party will organise 370 small indoor meetings and 35 big ones across the country, including six in Jammu and Kashmir, Times of India reported.
On the other hand, Congress aims at setting the tone around the ongoing economic slowdown. As the state of Haryana boasts of housing major automotive vehicles manufacturing units, the downturn which has hit majorly the auto sector, has resulted in production cuts and millions of workers losing their jobs. According to a Times of India report, the party will be organising conventions from September 20 to 30 at the state level across the country to highlight the slowdown.
So, does that mean ‘everything is fine’ in the state of Haryana? No substantive issues continue to grapple the lives of the people of Haryana? Well, the answer to this would be in negative in all Indian languages.
Speaking of labour at first, Haryana is currently witnessing rampant contractualisation and casualisation of its workforce. This is despite of having introduced polices, from time to time, in order to regularise the jobs of employees belonging to various state government departments. Numerous protests of the workers have been reported in the recent past by NewsClick, out of which the notable ones were of the computer teachers in Panchkula, and forest labourers in Gurugram among others.
In addition to this, the shadow of violence against Muslims in the state still lingers. Several cases—from a controversial diktat in Titoli village prohibiting Muslim communities from wearing skull caps and keeping beards to 20-25 armed people storming into a Muslim house in Gurugram’s Dhamaspur village—have been reported in the recent times that have instilled a fear, affecting the everyday life of Muslims in Haryana.
Thanks to the anti-farmer approach of the state BJP government, Haryana’s rural economy is in no healthy condition either. Over 40,000 farmers of the state are set to lose their productive agricultural land, in the highway construction process. This has been countered with numerous farmers’ protests in the state.
In addition to all of these, the issues surrounding below par education facilities in the state, violence against women, and caste conflict remain alive and unaddressed.
Meanwhile, as the evening was approaching, a statement by a worker caught the attention amidst all the voices which were detailing their set of complaints with the current Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in the state.
“My vote still goes to Modi,” he announced—not surprisingly, as the saffron party, despite its poor performance, has managed to secure victory in quite a few state Assembly polls, thanks to its divisive propaganda.
In 2014, in the backdrop of a “Modi wave”, the BJP government had swept the Haryana Assembly polls then, by winning 47 out of 90 seats, and though the party looks confident enough now by winning all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the recently concluded elections, it is to be seen whether the opposition is able to change the course of the wind this time or not.
Also read: Haryana’s Opportunistic Politics and Controversial Bishnoi Family