More than anything else, the political fortune of the Haryana health minister Rao Narender Singh (52) depends on the health of the Congress in the ensuing assembly elections. Anti-incumbency apart, exit of several senior leaders, of late, has not done the party any good.
Originally a Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) MLA from Narnaul, Singh was one of the five HJC MLAs who switched loyalties to the Congress immediately after the 2009 assembly polls. Earlier, in the Lok Sabha election the same year, Singh had lost from Bhiwani-Mahendergarh parliamentary constituency as the HJC nominee. Prior to this, he was two-time MLA from Ateli assembly segment, also in Mahendergarh district, on Congress ticket. He joined the HJC because of his closeness to former chief minister and then HJC supremo Bhajan Lal.
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This time, Singh faces INLD’s Kamlesh Saini, daughter-in-law of Bhana Ram Saini, who had contested the last assembly poll on the INLD ticket and had finished second. Development in the Narnaul assembly seat, where Singh now comes from, notwithstanding, the health minister is known for his soft-spoken nature and easy access.
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Singh got several developmental works done, including the upgradation of the general hospital, besides bringing to the city an Ayurvedic hospital that only Kurukshetra had so far in the state.
He also claims to have spent huge amount on the development of Narnaul, mainly on improving drinking water system and strengthening sewerage. Importantly, the work for long-pending Narnaul bypass has also been started a few days ago.
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However, the key issues confronting Singh include the completion of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal that would provide adequate water for farming, drinking purposes besides generating employment. Adequate efforts on this front are still awaited.
Before delimitation, Narnaul was dominated by Gurjars and Brahmins. Post-delimitation, several Gurjar villages got merged with the newly-carved Nangal Chaudhary assembly segment while parts of Ateli segment — dominated by Ahirs and Sainis — have been attached with Narnaul. This changed the poll equation and put Ahir and Saini candidates at advantage. Singh is the first Ahir MLA from Narnaul.
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However, opposition leaders allege irregularities and corruption in the works and go gaga over the alleged cash-for-CLU grant cases against the Congress MLAs, among whom Singh is also purportedly one.
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Others express anguish over the failure of the government and Singh’s inability in providing irrigation water and improving the condition of dilapidated roads, streets and sewerage.
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As a minister too, Singh has allegedly failed to bring any significant improvement in infrastructure and services in public health sector pan-Haryana as most of hospitals have inadequate staff and equipment or the mismatch of the same.
Tomorrow: Savitri Jindal, urban local bodies minister