The outcome of the state assembly polls on Sunday would have direct bearing on the dominance of two-term chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his stature in Jatland, including Deswali belt that comprises Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonepat districts.
In an outburst, prominent Ahir leader and minister Capt Ajay Yadav, who fought his seventh assembly election from Rewari this time, anticipated the Congress' defeat due to chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda's bias against other districts in job recruitment.
Though Hooda, in Chandigarh, downplayed his cabinet minister's remark, the expected poor showing of the Congress in Haryana, especially when Hooda is claiming to form government for the third time, would certainly force party's central leadership to doubt the latter's political manoeuvreing skills.
In the 2009 assembly polls, the Congress rode to power after Hooda managed to clinch 13 out of the 14 assembly seats in the Deswali belt by giving a call for good governance. But unlike 2009, the Congress-led UPA managed to win LS polls in 2014 and several prominent leaders of state Congress namely Rao Inderjit Singh and Birender Singh deserted the party.
The duo had accused Hooda of regional bias and held him responsible for their desertion during a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Reservation to the Jat community just before the Lok Sabha polls also did not work in his Hooda's favour as the Congress could retain only Rohtak seat from where the chief minister's son, Deepender Singh Hooda won. The Congress lost nine seats, the BJP won seven and INLD emerged victorious on two seats.
Hooda kept the focus of his campaigning on the Deswali belt, where he and his MP-son campaigned hard and gave the call save the 'chaudhar' of the area and urged electorate to not forget the large-scale development done by the Congress in its nine-year rule.
Requesting anonymity, a former Congress minister told HT that chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda would spend his time on Sunday at Chandigarh and by afternoon, as expected that there would be a Congress rout, would submit resignation at Raj Bhawan without any delay.
Admitting that the Congress failed to convince voters to choose it over the BJP led by Narendra Modi, the Congress leader said resentment against establishment is favouring the saffron party in Haryana, where it was a fringe player earlier.
Hooda, a block-level leader came into prominence, when he defeated Jat stalwart and former deputy prime minister Devi Lal on three occasions in 1991, 1996 and 1998.
On the other hand, to woo Jat voters, the BJP has fielded 25 Jat leaders in these assembly polls.
The BJP has fielded prominent Banger personality and veteran Jat leader Birender Singh's wife Prem Lata from Uchana Kalan after Singh joined the saffron party.
Former Sohna Congress MLA and Jat leader Dharambir Singh joined the saffron party just before the Lok Sabha polls and got elected from Bhiwani-Mahendergarh parliamentary constituency.
Despite poll pundits' predictions and internal reports of the Congress signalling a dismal show by the party, chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is firm on his stand that development wave is sweeping the agrarian state, which would put Congress at the helm for the third time in row.