The Bharatiya Janata Party has suffered a significant electoral setback in Haryana. If mid-evening trends hold, it will split the state’s ten seats with the Congress.

This is a steep decline from the last Lok Sabha polls when the BJP swept all ten Lok Sabha seats in the state, winning over 58% of all votes polled in the state. The Congress had notched up less than half that – about 28.5%.

At 8 pm, both the BJP and the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance bloc – which in the state comprises the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party – are hovering at a similar vote share of about 46%-48%.

The key to the BJP’s victory in 2019 was its ability to stitch up a broad coalition of voters spanning several communities. Apart from its traditional vote bank of Punjabi Hindus and Brahmins, it also garnered support from backward class communities – numerically large and varied groups that had previously never voted on unified lines.

This includes the Jat community, the largest and most influential group in the state. It had traditionally aligned with the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal. The BJP had also attracted a lot of Dalit voters, who traditionally supported the Congress

This time, it lost most of its Jat voters as well as a significant chunk of its non-Jat backward class voters. This was because the BJP’s “double-engine government” ruling at both the Centre and the state, which had been in place for ten years, fared poorly on matters that emerged as the key electoral concerns for the state – farmers’ problems and unemployment.

There was enormous public anger, especially in Jat-dominated districts, against the BJP for its governments’ harsh treatment of those who participated in the farmers’ protests over the years.

The Agnipath scheme, introduced by the BJP government in 2022, also alienated voters in a state that traditionally sends more personnel to the armed forces than most others. According to the scheme, the armed forces will now hire soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers on four-year contracts; only a fourth of the soldiers will get permanent tenure.

Despite all this, the Congress was not able to fully capitalise on this anti-BJP sentiment in the state. Factionalism in the senior leadership of the Haryana Congress resulted in an inordinate delay in finalising candidates for the Lok Sabha seats. Some party leaders did not participate in the election process and in some cases even ambushed the campaigns of fellow partymen.

In addition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi retained his popularity among significant sections of voters.

Still, unless something radical happens in the next six months, the BJP will not return to power in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha elections, set to be held in October. Popular opinion and electoral momentum in the state is clearly against the BJP. Last month, the BJP government lost its majority in the state assembly after three independent MLAs supporting it pulled out.

Seat-wise breakdown

The BJP, according to trends at 8 pm is likely to retain the Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Karnal and Kurukshetra seats. Its leads in Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, Gurgaon and Kurukshetra were quite thin – between 30,000 and 73,000 votes. Its leads were more comfortable in Karnal (2.2 lakh votes) and Faridabad (1.7 lakh votes).

In Kurukshetra, as was widely expected, Abhay Singh Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal, a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, played spoiler for the INDIA bloc. Chautala, whose father and grandfather have served as chief ministers of the state, had secured over 78,000 votes by 8 pm Tuesday. He was endorsed by Gurnam Singh Charuni, the Bharatiya Kisan Union chief in Haryana and one of the leaders of the farmers’ protest movement.

The BJP’s Naveen Jindal was leading the Aam Aadmi Party’s Sushil Kumar Gupta by only about 30,000 votes.

The Congress had won the Hisar, Sirsa and Sonipat seats and was leading by 3.4 lakh votes in the Rohtak and 47,000 votes in the Ambala seats. The victory in Sonipat was quite narrow – only 21,816 votes. Its victory margin in Hisar was also a relatively sliver 63,381. Although it won Sirsa by a comfortable margin of 2.68 lakh votes.

The blue-coloured constituencies are those won by the Congress. The orange-coloured ones are those won by the BJP. / Election Commission of India

The BJP’s projected victories, if trends hold, are concentrated in the southern part of the state, where it has unleashed communal politics over the last ten years due to the relatively high concentration of Muslims there.

On the other hand, the Congress’ actual and expected victories, as per mid-evening trends, are focused in the Jat heartland districts.