Explained: What do the Haryana municipal election results mean for the BJP, Cong and AAP?

As poll results for Haryana’s 46 municipalities fell on Wednesday, BJP scored a clear advantage over its opponents by winning 22 civic bodies, while its ally JJP managed to win three. The lion’s share of the remaining local bodies went to Congress, with the fledgling AAP managing just one. What do these results mean for all the major political actors in the state?

Has the BJP regained lost ground after the farmers’ protest?

Municipal polls do not reflect the mood of rural voters. But with several people of rural background residing in small towns and several others dependent on the agricultural economy, the findings indicate that the BJP is recovering from the political damage it suffered during the farmers’ unrest. Interestingly, the BJP had lost the two indirect polls – Baroda (won by the Congress) and Ellenabad (won by the INLD) – which had taken place during the farmers’ unrest.

Did the delay in holding these elections help the ruling alliance?

Local polls have been delayed for months due to court cases and other technical reasons. The opposition, however, blamed the delay on the political designs of the ruling party. If these elections had taken place as planned during the farmers’ demonstration, the BJP-JJP would have found it difficult to embark on the electoral campaign amid growing opposition at the grassroots level. In addition, recent BJP victories in Assembly polls, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, have helped boost the morale of party cadres in the state, who have fought the battle against the opposition with a renewed vigor.

Has infighting hurt Congress?

Due to the incessant wrangling within the state unit, the Congress has been unable to strengthen its organizational structure at the grassroots level in Haryana. As infighting between state stalwarts has escalated in recent months, Congress has not challenged those party symbol polls. Additionally, senior congressional leaders did not campaign for party-backed candidates. While former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda has had virtually a free hand in running state affairs, the most recent uprising came in Rajya Sabha polls by Kuldeep Bishnoi who voted against the party. But despite all that, the party now claims that 19 independents who won in civic polls were backed by it.

What do these results mean for AAP and its prospects in the state?

AAP managed to open their account by winning a small municipality (Ismailabad) in Kaithal district. The AAP expected an impressive performance here, especially after a stunning victory in neighboring Punjab in the Assembly polls. But it could not function as intended even when Congress was not actively on the battlefield.

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Political analysts say the results show the party will not find it as easy as Punjab or Delhi in trying to expand its base in the state.

However, by fighting over the party symbol, the AAP has ensured that it has dedicated volunteers on the ground for future contests.

Melissa C. Keyes