Haryana: Cong doubles tally, Hooda emerges stronger

The Congress may be far away from the halfway mark in Haryana, but the party‘s performance in the state polls has made former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda emerge stronger.

After his party lost power in Haryana in the 2014 polls, the 72-year-old satrap had nothing going in his favour.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre had made alleged irregularities in the land deals during his tenure a major issue and the Congress veteran was grappling with the cases against him.

He remained at loggerheads with the party‘s state unit chief Ashok Tanwar, who quit days after he was replaced by Kumari Selja, weeks ahead of the polls.

Hooda, who had virtually threatened to snap ties with the Congress, too was accommodated and made state legislature party leader, weeks before the elections, which some state leaders admit to be a delayed move.

 

“However, both Hooda and Selja aggressively picked up on the issues like unemployment, law and order, agrarian crisis, those relating to economy, employees issues which resonated with the people.

“Then the party came out with a manifesto, which promised loan waiver to farmers and had something for other sections as well and this helped the party,” a state unit leader said.

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“Had the party high command given charge to Hooda and Selja a few months before the polls, Congress‘s performance would have been even better,” he said.

Notably, Hooda retained his stronghold Garhi Sampla-Kiloi in Rohtak with a comfortable margin. With this win, Hooda now has nine victories under his belt, including one against former deputy prime minister Devi Lal in the Lok Sabha polls.

Hooda has been chief minister twice and an MP four times.

This time, the BJP fielded against him Satish Nandal, a former Rohtak district unit president of the INLD, who switched sides earlier this year.

Hooda had defeated Nandal twice, in 2009 and 2014 from the constituency, and now he inflicted a third shot.

Garhi Sampla-Kiloi came into being 10 years ago after a delimitation exercise. Before that the constituency was known as Kiloi.

Hooda had won from Kiloi twice, including the 2005 bypoll when he was the Rohtak MP and was handpicked by the high command to be the chief minister of the state.

In its sweeping Lok Sabha victory earlier this year, the BJP had breached even the traditional bastions of its opponents. Both Hooda, who fought from Sonipat, and his son Deepender, a three-time MP who contested from Rohtak, lost.

However, in the assembly polls Hooda managed to protect his stronghold as BJP failed to make inroads in the Jat-dominated Deswali belt of Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonipat districts.

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