The Haryana churn began with a BJP leader going over to Congress | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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The Haryana churn began with a BJP leader going over to Congress

Mar 13, 2024 01:23 AM IST

Brijendra Singh recently joined the Congress. And then his nemesis, Dushyant Chautala broke ties with the BJP. What does this mean for the two political scions?

In the midst of Tuesday's shake-up, with the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) walking out of its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haryana, the move of stiff-necked bureaucrat-turned-politician and BJP’s sitting Hisar MP Brijendra Singh to the Congress camp earlier this week may be forgotten, but it marks the first high-profile switch from the saffron party.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Hisar Brijendra Singh with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge. (ANI) PREMIUM
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Hisar Brijendra Singh with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge. (ANI)

Read here: From ML Khattar’s aide to Haryana's 11th CM: The rise of Nayab Saini

On March 10, the Hisar MP announced his resignation through a post on X (formerly Twitter), saying that he had resigned from the BJP "due to compelling political reasons." He also extended his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president JP Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah.

Interestingly, his switch to Congress days before the JJP's snapping of ties with the BJP is significant, as Brijendra had been opposed to the alliance from the start.

The JJP was formed in December 2018 and is a breakaway faction of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), founded by Devi Lal in 1996, the towering Jat leader of Haryana. It is now headed by former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, the grandfather of Dushyant Chautala.

It is this alliance of the BJP with the JJP that was at the root of Brijendra Singh quitting the BJP.

Both Brijendra and his father Birender Singh have been outspoken against the BJP's alliance with the JJP. The father-son duo often spoke out against the BJP on hot-button issues like farmers' and wrestlers' agitation, as well.

They wanted the BJP to snap the ties with JJP in Haryana. In the Hisar parliamentary seat, out of nine assembly constituencies, four (Uchana Kalan, Uklana, Narnaund, Barwala) are represented by the JJP and five (Adampur, Hisar, Hansi, Nalwa, Bawani-Khera) by the BJP.

Singh’s unease with JJP was also due to the tussle over the assembly constituency Uchana Kalan in Jind district. Brijendra’s father Birender Singh had won five assembly elections from Uchana Kalan assembly constituency and became cabinet minister in Congress governments three times.

In the October 2014 assembly polls, Birender’s wife Prem Lata contested as a BJP candidate and defeated Dushyant by a margin of 7,480 votes. Dushyant was a sitting MP from Hisar when he contested the assembly poll from Uchana. Then, in the October 2019 assembly polls, Dushyant, as a JJP nominee, defeated Prem Lata by 47,452 votes from Uchana Kalan.

Finally, the BJP stitched the post-poll alliance with the JJP to form the coalition government in 2019. Since then, Birender Singh, who was then a Rajya Sabha member of the BJP, started sulking even though he remained a Union minister in the NDA government. He had left the Congress ahead of the 2014 general election and joined the BJP.

What's more, Birender had once defeated former CM, OP Chautala (grandfather of Dushyant) from Hisar Lok Sabha seat in 1984. And in the 2009 assembly polls, OP Chautala defeated Birender from Uchana Kalan by a thin margin.

A fight of political scions

The decision by Brijendra, 51, who graduated from Modern School, Barakhamba Road in Delhi and graduated in History (Honours) from St. Stephen’s College, to join the Congress did not come as a surprise to many.

But his desertion of the saffron camp is significant: in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he had emerged victorious in what was the biggest dynastic battle in Haryana.

The JNU alumnus Brijendra also did a Master of Science (Public Policy and Management) from King’s College in London in 2018. That he was a brilliant student was widely known. He had secured the ninth rank in the UPSC and became the 1998-batch Haryana cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer. During his innings as a bureaucrat, he remained deputy commissioner (DC) of Faridabad, Panchkula and Chandigarh.

After quitting the IAS in 2019, shortly before the Lok Sabha polls, he took the plunge as a BJP nominee to carry forward the political legacy of his clan. Brijendra Singh is the great-grandson of iconic farmer leader Chhotu Ram.

The heirs of three prominent political families were in the fray that year for the Hisar parliamentary seat; two, including Brijendra, were poll debutants. Also testing the choppy political waters of Hisar that year were the then-sitting MP Dushyant Chautala, the great-grandson of a former deputy prime minister, Chaudhary Devi Lal, and Bhavya Bishnoi, the grandson of former chief minister Bhajan Lal.

Brijendra trounced Dushyant Chautala by over 300,000 votes.

Dushyant was the youngest MP in the 16th Lok Sabha and had won the 2014 election on an INLD ticket. Meanwhile, Bhavya Bishnoi secured over 184,000 votes on the Congress ticket.

In the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP-JJP coalition government in Haryana, now rejigged by the BJP into a government led by new Haryana chief minister Nayab Saini as of Tuesday, Dushyant Chautala was deputy chief minister and commanded a dozen-odd portfolios. He remains an MLA and the JJP plans to contest the upcoming general elections.

As no party got simple majority in the October 2019 Haryana assembly elections, the BJP with 40 seats emerged as the single largest party short of six MLAs to cross the magical halfway mark in the 90-member Vidhan Sabha, leading the BJP to stitch an alliance with Chautala.

A senior Haryana IAS officer, who wished not to be named, said that Brijendra was a “bright and rule book oriented typical bureaucrat” who detested “roaming” around politicians.

As Hisar MP, Brijendra is credited for remaining very active in his constituency. He was equally present in the Lok Sabha, where he took part in several debates.

Read here: Haryana twist: Nayab Saini replaces Khattar as CM, BJP cuts ties with JJP

But Dayanand Dhaka of Kirtan village in Hisar disagrees. He says Brijendra was not accessible for common people. On the other hand, Anil Kumar of Kanwari village, says that MP was a dedicated and honest parliamentarian who took up the cause of farmers and Hisar people in the Lok Sabha.

“He neither makes false promises nor misguides people. He remains cool and calm. He raised farmers' issues in the Parliament and spoke against Haryana government on farmer’s issue,” said Anil Kumar. Sudhir Kumar, a resident of Mangali village, echoed Anil Kumar's views on this matter.

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