Sports minister Sukhbeer Kataria is heading for a tough match in the upcoming assembly elections. Having already given an advantage to the opposition for he has been booked in a ‘bogus vote’ scam, this former basketball player is not even sure of getting a Congress ticket.
Haryana players’ success in international events has been a major public relation exercise for Bhupinder Singh Hooda government, but Kataria, who doesn’t have an independent charge, has never got benefit as it is Hooda who has been hogging the limelight during the felicitation functions. The government doled out crores for medal winners but the money was not spent proportionately at the grassroots level. Only recently, the government has filled up the posts of 250 coaches which were lying vacant for many years.
First time MLA, Kataria won as an independent candidate in 2009 and offered support to Hooda government. In return, he was made minister of state for sports.
He had won by a margin of just 2,140 votes in 2009 while the Congress candidate Dharambir Gaba who was then a sitting MLA stood second. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress candidate was miserably third in Gurgaon assembly with just over 17,000 votes, while Rao Inderjit Singh of the BJP was ahead with 1.25 lakh votes, followed by Yogendra Yadav of AAP with over 27,000 votes.
The upcoming assembly elections will be tougher for Kataria as Jat votes which rallied behind him in the last assembly elections could be divided. The Indian National Lok Dal has also put up a Jat candidate Gopichand Gehlot. Also, the seat has higher Punjabi and Yadav votes. The Congress and BJP are yet to open their cards. The consolidation of non-Jat votes could go against him. When asked whether he would fight on Congress ticket, he said there was still a lot of time to decide on it.
Otherwise known for being friendly and accessible, Kataria has brought a number of projects for his constituency. “We have brought metro rail system, city buses, bus queue shelters and have brought canal water to the city. My constituency is the only one where LED lights have been installed,” he said, adding, “In Gurgaon, we have now enough water to meet the challenge of the next 10-15 years.”
On the question of regional bias in development and anti-incumbency in Haryana, he said, “People do not understand. If outer roads are being developed in Rohtak that will benefit not only those from Rohtak, but also those who are passing through them to reach other areas of the state. I do not agree that there has been uneven development.”
He added, “Gurgaon has the benefit of geographical location. There are MNCs, corporate houses and automobile manufacturing units. So, development is bound to happen there. I am at good position in the constituency.”