CHANDIGARH: The khaps—self-styled caste councils—hold a key to the outcome of the parliamentary elections in Haryana. While in the last Lok Sabha polls the BJP received their support, this time the khaps have not voiced support for any party so far.
The khaps have considerable influence in about 11 districts in the state: Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonipat, Bahadurgarh, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Sirsa, Mahendragarh, Bhiwani and Gurugram. Some of the major khaps include Meham Choubasia, Nogam, Satrol, Ghatwal, Kandela, Khera and Dhankar.
The jats vote en block, with the khaps setting the tone and direction. But this time the mood in the community is quite as well as that of anger. In the last Lok Sabha elections, they voted overwhelmingly for the saffron party. Jats are usually vocal supporters of whichever party they decide to back, but this time they have gone silent, and have adopted a wait and watch approach.
“We have told the people to vote as per their conscience, and for the candidate they feel is best suited for them. It will depend on the candidate and not the political party, as at the end of the day it’s the local representative who matters,” said a khap leader.
The ruling BJP in the state tried to placate the khaps in order to soothe their frayed tempers. But until now has not been able to do it.
“After the jat agitation on reservation, cases were registered against youth, which have not been taken back by the government, and what about our demand for reservation? And we were blamed for everything, which was not the case,’’ said a disgruntled leader.