Nafe Singh Nain, of Binain Khap, speaking to ANI. Photo/ANI
Nafe Singh Nain, of Binain Khap, speaking to ANI. Photo/ANI

Candidates line up to garner khap support in Haryana; no endorsement but will do the needful, say khaps

By Pragya Kaushika | Updated: Oct 16, 2019 15:51 IST

Jind/Mahendragarh (Haryana) [India], Oct 16 (ANI): The pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP leader Captain Abhimanyu and Nafe Singh Nain, one of the most influential Khap leaders, sharing a laughter dots the wall of Nain's room. There is yet another picture where former chief minister BS Hooda could be seen introducing him to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi when all were in power. In yet another frame Congress leader Surjewala sat alongside him wearing a turban. If these pictures were anything to go by, they exhibit the clout Khaps wields in the elections and politics.
However, these rigid and hardliner organisations are going through a transition in Haryana.
Unlike earlier, when khaps would openly support a political leader or a party, many of these khaps, the old ones, are now avoiding endorsing any party openly. While there are quite a few that have no qualms of rallying their support behind a candidate. Nain is Pradhan of Naini khap, claimed to be one of the largest with a hold over more than 52 villages.
"There are still many who would support openly as BJP, Congress and INLD field them as candidates to secure votes, many like us have left it to individuals to choose the party of their liking. Partiyon ki bandhi hai khap aur apne apne swarth mein vote deti hai ( khaps are tied with parties and vote in their self-interests) said Nafe Singh, pradhan of Binain Khap.
Singh, according to chiefs of other khaps as well, is well respected across khaps.
While he maintains that his Khap does not endorse any party, political leaders come to woo him, nonetheless. "They have come to me to request that if I am not endorsing them, I should not go against their candidate," added Singh, pradhan Danoda village.
Tek Ram Kandela of Kandela khap is a staunch supporter of PM Modi and BJP. Also, chairman of Haryana state cooperative labour and construction federation, Kandela too claims not using his khap, that boasts of having more than 20 villages under him, to garner support for a political party," We have left it to individuals," says Kandela.
Having made this claim, he and other khaps claiming to be not using their khaps to rally support for political parties, made few requests to the Khattar government that are likely to have political repercussions.
"We want amendment in the Hindu marriage act. We want the government to declare that there should be no marriage between one gotra, one village and that of families in the adjoining villages. We consider everyone in certain circumference our brothers and sisters," said Kandela. This demand has the support of Binain Khap as well.
While, dictating lives of villagers who owe allegiance to them like playing DJ on weddings and dancing have been unanimously banned by these khaps in their respective villages, inter-caste marriage, strongly supported by Sangh, is still an issue of debate.
With BJP in power, many khap hardliners have grown weaker and gravitated towards being a moderate face of khaps.
Kandela says that he has, in fact, made a request to the CM that amount of money given for inter-caste marriages should be doubled. "There is no problem in intercaste marriage. We are in fact working on Beti Bachao and environmental issues," adds Kandela.
Nain, however, fumes at inter-caste marriage, dancing on DJs and mobiles in schools. "Rapes happen more in cities as they don't have khaps to exert pressure on the individual," opines Nain.
Political bigwigs across party lines have reached out to woo these caste-based khaps.
Satbir Rathi of Rathi khap that is influential in Bahadurgarh too maintains that while every candidate has approached them for support, the khap will stay away from endorsement. "We wont go on anyone's stage or ask for votes for any. But we will vote for whosoever is good for society," said Rathi.
The candidates who are contesting elections believe that approaching the khaps did help in certain ways.
"The political parties support khaps dictates to keep them in good humour. This has mellowed down a bit since BJP came to power. The focus is on development. Dictates that are against a developing society cannot be endorsed any longer but criticizing that publicly too isn't necessary during elections. What we need is that we get tacit support from these khaps who act as social organisations," said a senior BJP leader contesting this election.
The 90-member Haryana Assembly will go to polls on October 21. The results will be announced on October 24. (ANI)