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‘Phir ek baar Manohar sarkaar’—Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar is definitely not embarrassed taking a leaf out of PM Narendra Modi’s successful campaign playbook as he begins the electoral push for a second term. He hopes to make a comeback and buck anti-incumbency much like Modi.
There is another slogan: “MaNo again.” And then one that encompasses the ambition of ‘Ab ki baar 300 paar’ (This time, 300+), with the Haryana BJP declaring its intent to win over 75 of the 90 assembly seats in Haryana—‘Ab ki baar 75 paar’ (This time, 75+). The BJP had won 48 seats in the 2014 assembly polls.
Though the poll dates haven’t been announced, the state’s election machinery has been kickstarted with a push from the central leadership. Haryana finance minister Captain Abhimanyu says Union home minister Amit Shah set the target of 75 seats and continues to oversee poll arrangements . “He has given ‘Mission-75’ to the Haryana leadership for the assembly polls, and we don’t foresee any problem as the BJP won all 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state,” says Abhimanyu.
Not only is Shah in touch with Khattar, the BJP’s working president J.P. Nadda has also been addressing party workers and public rallies in Haryana. Though campaigning will begin in real earnest only after the polls dates are announced, Khattar has given enough indications that it will be focused on the Modi government’s 100 days’ achievements. During his mass contact programme, the CM talked about implementing the National Register of Citizens in Haryana, while praising the Centre for taking bold decisions, including revoking Article 370.
Besides the work done by the Modi government, the BJP also plans to contrast Khattar’s clean image to that of his predecessor, Bhupendra Singh Hooda of the Congress. Addressing a public gathering in Jat-dominated Jind recently, Shah said Haryana was notorious for nefarious land deals under Hooda, but Khattar made “corruption a thing of past”.
Earlier this month, PM Modi sounded the poll bugle with his rally in Rohtak, where he launched development works before the Model Code of Conduct comes into play. Inaugurating projects worth Rs 2,000 crore, Modi said a BJP governments in the state and at the Centre would work as “double-engines of growth”. With the Opposition in disarray—the Congress is ridden by factionalism and the INLD has lost many leaders to the BJP—the saffron party definitely has an edge in Haryana as of now.