The 72-year-old Dadri legislator, Satpal Sangwan, is trying to shed the image of a party-hopper and keen to play the development card this time.
Known for his clout in his Jat community, Sangwan is considered to have played a major role in the controversial development in which five of the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) legislators had joined the Congress to enable Bhupinder Singh Hooda form government for the second consecutive time in 2009.
Long stint, patchy show
Sangwan is known for fair knowledge of his ministries and do not leave the departments to bureaucrats. He regularly conducts surprise visits to sugar mills and holds dialogue sessions with farmers to know their grievances, if any, say government sources. Known for his clean image, the minister is never harsh and observes keenly even minutest of technical issues, as per an official.
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A science graduate from prestigious DN College, Hisar, Sangwan was first elected from Dadri segment on ticket of the Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) that was formed by rebel Congress leader late Bansi Lal in 1996.
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Bansi Lal’s pick
Sources close to the leader said while working with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Sangwan came close to Bansi Lal and he was preferred over other candidates as HVC nominee for Dadri seat. In 2009, he won as an HJC candidate by a thin margin but later switched loyalties to Hooda and joined the Congress.
The five legislators, including Sangwan, who were elected on the HJC ticket in the October 13, 2009, assembly polls, were specially flown in to Chandigarh and made to appear before the then assembly speaker Harmohinder Singh Chattha in the assembly complex. They conveyed to the speaker their decision to join the Congress. The move of Sangwan and four others to switch loyalties was challenged by HJC president Kuldeep Bishnoi at different constitutional forums but a final outcome on the matter is yet to come. Sangwan was made a minister of cooperation and housing in 2009.
Political observers say Sangwan is a strong leader from Bhiwani, the home district of the late Congress stalwart Bansi Lal.
Owing to his loyalty to Hooda, he has more say in the state government than Lal’s daughter-in-law Kiran Chaudhary, a Congress legislator from Bhiwani segment.
Political analysts say in Bhiwani, sub-caste or gotra plays a significant role in electoral politics and in the last elections Sangwan got a thumping support from his sub-caste Sangwan.
“There was an anti-Congress mood and the influence of Kuldeep Bishnoi’s family was another factor, but like other elections his gotra clout came to the rescue of Sangwan,” said an analyst. Sangwan is known for maintaining contact with voters and has worked to strengthen road network and to get developed an urban estate by HUDA at Dadri.
As per Sangwan, Dadri’s state roadways depot was discontinued but due to his efforts the new depot had a fleet of 150-odd buses.
A 100-bed hospital and electrification are among works done during his term since 2009.
However, his switch to the Congress is being seen as a major factor of resentment among the voters.
“Voters of Dadri elected Sangwan as an HJC leader whereas the Congress candidate stood at third position in 2009. But even after five years, Sangwan is struggling to convince voters on his hopping on to a party that was not given the mandate in the last polls,” said a Bhiwani-based political observer.
Tomorrow: Rao Narender Singh, health minister