TCPD Columns

Multi-Party Presence in Haryana State Politics: An Exploratory Piece

Haryana state politics has shown a potent multi-party presence ever since the inception of the state in 1966. State politics in Haryana although often characterised by Aaya Rams-Gaya Rams, factionalism, dynastic politics and caste politics, is also immensely competitive.1 The  Effective Number of Political Parties (ENOP) has never been less than two – this indicates high competition in state politics.2 Nonetheless, there is more to understand about party politics in Haryana than just ENOP.

As such, this piece will use TCPD-PPI and Lok Dhaba data to refer to ENOP data from 1967 to 2019,4 along with Party Contested and Party Represented data from 1977 to 2019. 1977 is taken as a cut-off year to present trends for ten legislative terms between 1977 to 2019 of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha. This will help validate the nature of the party culture that has shaped and formed electoral politics in the state.

For context, ‘ENOP’ is an adjusted marker for political parties in a region, in this case, Haryana. It computes party numbers in a region and measures their relative strength.6 The relative strength is calculated by understanding both vote and seat shares in an assembly. Even though ENOP does not represent raw numbers of political parties in a region, it showcases the effective materialisation of political parties in the system. ‘Parties Represented’ refers to the total number of parties that were successfully able to send a representative to the assembly,7 whereas ‘Parties Contested’ or ‘Participating Political Parties’ refers to the total number of parties that contested the election. Likewise, ‘independents’ are considered as a singular group within ‘parties contested’.8 In fact, following the year 2014, the Election Commission of India (ECI) also counts NOTA as a singular group within the ‘parties contested’ category.Such categorisation enables straightforward data representation and provides proportionate weightage to both independents and NOTA in a competitive party system.

ENOP of Haryana Vidhan Sabha

Figure 1: ENOP of Haryana Vidhan Sabha from 1967-2019.10

The 90 seats’ Haryana Vidhan Sabha depicts a very strong ENOP, indicating the ease with which different parties can establish themselves and secure seats. Despite the wavering ENOP from 1967 to 2019, Figure 1 shows that there have been only four instances (1968, 1972, 1982 and 1987) — all in the first 20 years — where the ENOP was in the range of 2. Otherwise, it has consistently remained in the range of 3 or more. In fact, it was at a staggering 4.16 in 1996. This also shows that Haryana has never seen a ‘two-party competition’ in its electoral history, as the ENOP has never been less than 2. While this does not accurately represent the nature of all the electoral options and alternatives for voters, it represents an increased number of political parties functioning in the state. As such, ENOP reflects only a portion of the party competition in the state, thus, it is essential to view data of contesting parties and representing parties to have a comprehensive understanding of party politics in Haryana.

Parties Represented and Parties Contested; a tale of strong competition

Figure 2: Parties Contested v/s Parties Represented in Haryana Vidhan Sabha (1977-2019)11

            Along with an aggressive ENOP, Haryana state politics shows an upwards trend in the number of contesting parties. As Figure 2 shows, the numbers of contesting parties have increased eight times from 9 to a whopping 72, from 1977 to 2019, respectively. However, the ‘number of parties represented’ kept moving between 4 to 8. Similarly, an increase in the number of contesting parties does not always translate into an increase in the number of representing parties. In simpler terms, it represents that despite cut-throat competition in the race to Vidhan Sabha, there are only as many parties that will succeed.

In Figure 3, we calculate the percentage of representing parties from the total contesting parties by using the data in Figure 2. The slanting trendline in Figure 3 shows that as the number of contesting parties increased, the percentage of representing parties showed a downward spiral.

Even though the downward trend was not linear and the percentage was more than 30% in 1977, 1982 and 1987, it decreased from 44.44% to 8.33% from 1977 to 2019. Therefore, despite the number of representing parties kept moving between 4 to 8, the competition only increased for the Haryana Vidhan Sabha elections.

Figure 3: Percentage of Parties Represented of the total Parties Contested12

The Complexities of Party Representation

Figure 4: Performance of ‘Parties Represented’13

Thus far, it is seemingly obvious that Haryana state politics is extremely competitive. However, in Figure 4, we problematise the data of ‘Parties Represented’ even further to understand electoral longevity, electoral survival, factionalism, and dynastic politics in the state. Figure 4 shows that while it might be easy to win seats or elections, sustaining the electoral process for prolonged periods is a different and difficult task. For example, only Independents, BJP, LKD/INLD and INC have shown consistent electoral performance. In fact, they too, have had their strings of failures. On the other hand, no party apart from the aforementioned parties has survived for five consecutive terms. It points toward the poor electoral survival rate of parties in Haryana. The same is due to short-lived ambitions, lack of sustained political impetus, weak and unstable coalitions and high trends of factionalism. It is also why many parties in the erstwhile governments, either cease to exist or are fighting for their survival.

            Interestingly, it cannot be said that parties that have had a shorter life span failed to make an impact. For example, HVP (Haryana Vikas Party) successfully formed the government in 1996 after getting support from the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).14 The HVP was formed by Bansi Lal, after he broke away from the INC, only to again merge into it in 2004.15 Similarly, in the same elections, SAP (Social Action Party) clinched 24 seats, but did not show any electoral presence thereafter. It indicates that party formation or dissolution in Haryana is driven by vested electoral interests fueled by political dynasticism. Notwithstanding that, not all poor or short-lived performances of political parties should be attributed to factionalism or dynasticism, as a great many of them are because of weak electoral purchase of ideology and lost resonance amongst the voters. For example, BSP, despite being a national party and having a strong foothold in Uttar Pradesh, has failed to make a mark in Haryana’s state politics.

            Additionally, the 2019 Vidhan Sabha elections, show that party competition can also lead to coalition building. For instance, the JNJP (Jannayak Janata Party), a faction of the old LKD/INLD of the Chautala clan, supported BJP to form the government.16 It shows that competitive party politics, even born out of factionalism and infighting can become real deal-breakers and shape the course of governance in the state.


The rising participation of political parties in the state comes as a positive for advocates of a multi-party system and for those who hope to see less polarised government(s) in the state. The column used variables like ENOP, contesting parties and representing parties to understand the magnitude and underlying significance of the party system in the electoral history of Haryana Vidhan Sabha. After analysing the data, we conclude that, even though the state witnesses an immensely sharp competition within political parties over the years, and a net increase in the number of contesting parties. The nature of this competition continues to be largely shaped by infighting, factionalism, dynasticism, and selfish political interests. We also find that while it is relatively easy to create parties and win seats in state elections, it is very difficult to consistently perform and survive through consecutive legislative terms. In this regard, we find that independents and national parties tend to have a better electoral survival rate when compared to other state and registered parties.

About the Author

Ojas Arora is currently pursuing a P.G.D. in Ashoka Scholars Programme (ASP) at Ashoka University, Sonepat. He did his graduation in B.A. in History and International Relations and has worked with TCPD on several projects.


I would like to express my gratitude to Maleeha Fatima, my supervisor at TCPD and Poulomi Ghosh for her valuable feedback. I would also like to thank the entire team at TCPD for their sustained efforts in compiling comprehensive datasets on candidates and political parties.


  1. Siwach, Sukhbir. 2011. “‘Aaya Ram Gaya Ram’ Haryana’s Gift To National Politics | Chandigarh News – Times Of India”. The Times Of India.
  2. TCPD Political Parties of India Dataset (TCPD-PPI), 1962-current”,Trivedi Centre for Political Data, Ashoka University. 
  3. TCPD Political Parties of India Dataset (TCPD-PPI), 1962-current”,Trivedi Centre for Political Data, Ashoka University.  
  4. “Lok Dhaba; Vidhan Sabha-Party Performance”. 2022. Lokdhaba.Ashoka.Edu.In.
  5. Laakso, Markku, and Rein Taagepera. 1979. ““Effective” Number Of Parties”. Comparative Political Studies 12 (1): 3-27. doi:10.1177/001041407901200101.
  6.  “Lok Dhaba; Vidhan Sabha-Party Performance”. 2022. Lokdhaba.Ashoka.Edu.In.
  7.  Ibid.
  8.  “Statistical Report Haryana 2014”. 2022. Election Commission Of India. Accessed July 25.
  9. TCPD Political Parties of India Dataset (TCPD-PPI), 1962-current”,Trivedi Centre for Political Data, Ashoka University.   
  10.  “Lok Dhaba; Vidhan Sabha-Party Performance”. 2022. Lokdhaba.Ashoka.Edu.In.
  11.  Ibid.
  12.  “Political Career Tracker”. 2022. Lokdhaba.Ashoka.Edu.In.
  13. Gupta, Yoginder. 2006. “Bansi Lal Dead”. Tribuneindia.Com.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Hebbar, Nistula. 2019. “BJP, JJP Join Hands To Form Government In Haryana”. Thehindu.Com.
  16.  Deswal, Deepender. 2019. “Dynastic Politics Is Here To Stay In Haryana”. Tribuneindia News Service.


This article belongs to the author and is independent of the views of the Centre.