72 year old Hooda is a two-time chief minister and has been elected to the Lok Sabha on four occasions from the state
Haryana, which was once a stronghold for the Congress has seen a drastic decline in their electoral representation from the state
NEW DELHI :
Assembly elections in Haryana are crucial for Congress veteran leader and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Not only is he a strong leader of the Jat community which accounts for approximately 30% of the population, he was also on the forefront of ensuring a last minute organizational change in the state in the run up to the assembly elections. Early voting trends show Hooda fighting not just a tough battle to reclaim Haryana but also his political legacy.
The 72-year-old leader is a two-time chief minister and has been elected to the Lok Sabha from the state on four occasions. This time, he seeks re-election from his home constituency of Garhi Sampla- Kiloi in Rohtak. Hooda-led Congress is taking on an electorally resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar which had swept the state in the Lok Sabha elections, internal party tussles and corruption allegations.
Early trends of counting for votes on Thursday show that the Congress could be on the path to recovery, but it may not be enough to form government as the BJP seems to be inching closer to the halfway mark.
Haryana, which was once a stronghold for the Congress, has seen a drastic decline in its electoral representation from the state. It was visible during the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year from Hooda’s traditional bastion of Rohtak.
Congress had won the Rohtak parliamentary seat in Haryana in all national elections, except one. The dream run in the Lok Sabha constituency, which was represented by three generations of Hooda, however, ended earlier this year when his son, Deependra Singh Hooda, lost to BJP’s Arvind Kumar Sharma. Congress eventually lost all the Lok Sabha seats from the state for the second consecutive general elections.
While taking on the BJP, the Congress was faced with an internal leadership tussle. In September, just a month ahead of elections, the Congress ended the debate around party leadership in the state by naming former Union minister Kumari Selja as the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief in place of Ashok Tanwar. After the state unit was split into two factions, the party also appointed Hooda as the Congress legislative party leader and chief of the election management committee.
With rebel party leader Ashok Tanwar raising a public banner of revolt against Hooda, Congress is now battling a divided house to put up a united face, organisational troubles, eroding ground connect and its inability to stitch together an effective campaign against the BJP government over a series of issues, including violence during Jat agitation in February, 2016.
Earlier this month, in an interview with Mint Hooda said “Congress is going to form government in Haryana this time. People are fed up with the present BJP government. When they formed government, they made 154 promises and they have not fulfilled even a single one."
In 2014 assembly elections, Congress had won 15 assembly seats out of 90, while the BJP formed government with 47 seats. In this election, BJP has set a public target of 75 seats. Regional parties like Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) too are looking to eat into the opposition space.
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