It has been a dream run for two-time Rohtak MP Deepender Singh Hooda so far. Son of Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Deepender has won the last two Lok Sabha elections by massive margins — 2.32 lakh in 2005 and 4.45 lakh in 2009. Politics comes naturally to Deepender, primarily due to his lineage. But it was not before his father became the CM in 2005 and quit Rohtak parliamentary seat that Deepender was ushered in on Haryana’s political scene.
Over the past several years, he seems to have made a mark for himself in the political echelons of the Congress as well as his home turf , Rohtak parliamentary constituency. An MBA from US- based Kelley School of Business, he not only gained some proximity to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi but has also used his pull to fetch important central projects for his constituency. His standing in the Lok Sabha, too, improved after his impressive address on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in December 2012.
Known to be genial in public life, the junior Hooda has ensured that he remains accessible to people, not forgetting the significance of his constituents in his success. “In fact, he always remains on the move, touring his constituency all the time,” says Ravinder Singh Hooda, OSD (officer on special duty) to the chief minister and a resident of Kiloi (Rohtak).
Some, however, feel that too much contact with the public can also prove to be one’s undoing in politics. The MP is often thronged by job-seeking youth who are usually difficult to manage. Critics feel that providing jobs to people in his constituency is a double-edged sword for Deepender. “This antagonises many,” says a Rohtak resident.
Rajesh Dhankhar, a local farmer, feels that the Congress has failed to provide employment on merit. “Deserving candidates were left out while candidates who had right connections got preference in jobs,” rues Dhankhar. Rohtak-based entrepreneur Kuldeep Sharma feels that while Rohtak has seen tremendous growth, the MP has failed to bring to the area big industry which could have generated employment.
Vijaya Balhara, an educationist, says Deepender’s accessibility is his biggest strength. The projects he has brought to the state, particularly his parliamentary constituency, have put Haryana on the international map, said Balhara. But then there are others like Umesh Devi, a housewife from Jhajjar, and Subhash Kumar, a Rohtak-based RTI activist, who are critical of the Congress functioning – both in the state and at the Centre.
The RTI activist says that the poll promises of providing jobs to the youth and better living conditions for everyone were given the go-by the Congress regime. “The government failed to provide adequate electricity supply, good health facilities and potable water to the middle and lower strata of society,” claims Subhash.
Devi says the Cong ress claims of having done phenomenal development in Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonepat falls flat when one sees the pathetic condition of roads and poor sanitation in many parts of the Lok Sabha constituency. “Moreover, inflation has upset the budget of any middle-class family like ours. The failure of the Congress in controlling corruption in government offices has also left people aggrieved,” she adds.
According to Capt Abhimanyu, the MP’s key rival and BJP national spokesperson, “All promises of employment generation through setting up of special economic zones (SEZs) and by other means, which were trumpeted by Deepender, have proved to be bogus. In the entire constituency, corruption is at its peak. Instead of stemming it, the Congress has promoted it.”
Capt Abhimanyuadds: “Despite being a two-time MP, Deepender has failed to carve a niche for himself and is still known as the chief minister’s son. He embarrassed his constituents when he spoke about growing two-foot-long potatoes, exhibiting his lack of understanding about agriculture, the primary vocation of the people he represents.”
‘I have worked with utmost sincerity. Hope people will judge me on its basis’
What do you see as the high points of your five-year term?
Deepender Hooda: It’s very satisfying that my efforts to bring several important projects to the Rohtak parliamentary constituency, such as the National Cancer Institute, have fructified. My performance in the Lok Sabha, where I was asked to lead the charge on behalf of the Congress and speak on FDI in multi-brand retail, was well received even by the Opposition. I was able to make an impression. And when the elderly put a hand on my head to bless me, that’s probably the best moment for me. It’s a high point!
What’s that you had wished to do as an MP but couldn’t? And why?
I want to see a quicker pace of job creation in the country. But as an MP, one’s sphere of influence is limited. Also, one project which has been pursued vigorously by me but has not seen the light of day is an international airport for Haryana.
Would you like to contest again, and why should the people reelect you?
Definitely. I feel I have worked with utmost sincerity, honesty and commitment for the past five years with single-minded focus on the development of my constituency. Over the years, I have tried to bring about a positive change in the areas of infrastructure development, education, institution building etc. and worked to the best of my ability. I do hope that people will judge me on the basis of my sincerity while casting the ballot.
How has been your experience in Parliament that witnessed highest-ever number of disruptions and wasted hours?
This term in Parliament has been really disappointing compared to the previous one. During this term, none of us could function in the Lok Sabha due to repeated disruptions by members of the Opposition. We have a responsibility towards the nation and to the younger generation. Parliament should be allowed to function and each issue needs to be debated rigorously. Political parties also need to understand that the floor of the House is not a glorified political stage for political rallies.