CHANDIGARH: The khaps, self-styled caste councils (Kangaroo courts) which have been doing moral policing in the hinterland for decades and influenced the political choices are now slowing losing their relevance. However, one cannot rule them out completely in these polls.
So far the pressure groups have not voiced support for any party openly. In the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, they voted overwhelmingly for the BJP. The 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 policy.
Tulsi Grewal of Meham Chaubisi, one of the most powerful khap, which has influence in at least five Assembly seats in Rohtak, Jind, Hisar and Bhiwani districts, says, “The image of khaps have been dented in the past by a political party on the issue of Jat reservation and incidents afterwards. Also to some extent the khaps leaders were to be blamed. Now, khaps are a divided house, we are not supporting any candidate but working silently.”
“It will not be easy for the ruling BJP to win these elections as on many seats it is a tough contest between the saffron party, Congress and JJP. The khaps are not supporting any party but individual candidates,” said Sube Singh of the Sarva Khap Jat Panchayat.
A few khap leaders on the condition of anonymity said, “A political party has mislead the people that is taking very section of the society chhattis biradari (36 communities) together with itself and has promoted brotherhood in the state. That has not been the case and it has tried to create a caste divide. The khaps are social bodies which are now trying to weave back that the torn social fabric.”