Hooda's challenge: holding his flock together for assembly polls

  • Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: May 16, 2014 23:13 IST

Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is now a worried man. The two-time back-to-back chief minister, who spearheaded the Congress poll campaigning during 2009 assembly elections, after its superb showing in 2009 Lok Sabha polls, faces another electoral test inevitably in less than five months.

The current term of the Haryana assembly, which was constituted on October 28, 2009, expires on October 27, 2014.

Ideally, Hooda would want the assembly polls to be held in October as it gives him time to recuperate and rethink his poll strategy. But his main challenge will be to hold his flock together.

Congress deserters Rao Inderjit Singh, Dharambir Singh and Ramesh Kaushik - who won their respective Lok Sabha seats on the BJP tickets - have shown many a disgruntled MLAs the way.

Out of the eight Lok Sabha seats contested by the BJP in Haryana, only three were fought by the candidates who were core saffron - Rattan Lal Kataria from Ambala, Krishan Pal Gujjar from Faridabad and Om Prakash Dhankhar from Rohtak. The rest can be easily termed outsiders.

Three Congressmen-turned BJP leaders - Rao Inderjit, Dharambir and Ramesh Kaushik were fielded from Gurgaon, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh and Sonepat respectively.

Newspaper baron Ashwani Chopra, who was a sort of para trooper. was fielded from Karnal while Raj Kumar Saini, who was fielded from Kurukshetra, has been a party hopper.

The BJP, which is on an all-time high in Haryana, after winning seven Lok Sabha seats, would also want the elections to be held as quickly as possible to cash in on the winning wave.

"The BJP will try to poach on Congress leaders for the assembly polls as the party has a dearth of leaders of good political standing in the state. This can trigger fresh desertions,'' said a Congress leader, who did not wish to be named.

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