After the Congress rout in the Lok Sabha elections, the knives are out in Haryana. Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda faces the heat for the mauling in nine of the 10 parliamentary seats in the state, with his detractors blaming his misplaced priorities and policies for the poor showing.
HT Assistant Editor Navneet Sharma talks to Congress Working Committee (CWC) member and Rajya Sabha MP Birender Singh, a known critic of Hooda, on poll results, reasons for the wipeout and its impact on the approaching assembly elections. Excerpts:
How do you see the Lok Sabha results?
There is resentment among the people against the nine-year rule of the present government in the state. The biggest reason for this anger is lopsided development. And, it has been proved by the fact that you are winning one handsomely and losing all other seats even more handsomely. This is conclusive evidence that the resentment among the voters is against the present government in the state.
What about poor governance, corruption and other charges?
If you compare the LS seats with the 2009 assembly results, we won only 40 seats at that time. The symptoms were visible even then. Besides these issues, caste was another factor. In my view, it was more important than the Modi wave in some areas. The proof is that the AAP could not make any headway in rural and semiurban areas. In Hisar, there was total polarisation on caste lines.
The society was vertically divided. There was no Modi, no Kuldeep, no INLD, no Congress or Chautala factor there. Caste played a role in other areas also. Corruption and price rise are national issues, and not specific to Haryana alone.
Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar has blamed internal bickering for poor results. Do you agree?
These things do not matter. The scale of defeat shows this. We could not counter the charge of lopsided development. We could not rejig the organisation for the last three-and-a-halfyears. When the change was made, the elections were only 40 days away. We have led in only 15 assembly segments. Of these, all the segments except four in Bhiwani-Mahendergarh and Kurukshetra are in the Rohtak-Jhajjar-Sonepat belt. This is all due to lopsided development. If 90% Congress is to be finished for the survival of 10% of the Congress, this has happened.
What is the way forward? Any possibility of a change of guard?
The CWC is meeting on Monday. The committee will look at what needs to be done in Haryana. But one thing is clear if you go with the same system, you would get the same thrashing. Something will have to be done.
Is there any truth in speculations that you plan to float your own party?
There is no truth in them. I was addressing a meeting of supporters and had said I would try to get tickets for 30 of my comrades in the assembly elections at any cost, there is this talk. What I was doing was to cheer up leaders and supporters who are demoralised. But there is no question of launching my party.
Since three Haryana Congress deserters are BJP MPs now, what is the possibility of some more desertions from the party before the assembly polls?
There could be desertions at any level. The BJP could be an attraction for opportunists who want to survive in the political system at any cost. But it will also depend on whether the BJP needs them or not. The Bharatiya Janata Party did not have candidates in some Lok Sabha seats.