Much like Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, too, benefited from the TINA (there is no alternative) factor when the Congress renominated him chief minister for a second term in Haryana.
But the coming days may see the Congress “right sizing” the chief minister-designate whose style of functioning in his first term had rubbed his colleagues the wrong way. Some of them had raised this issue with central leaders during consultations on the CM nominee.
Indications of his being “right sized” would be linked with the changes the party may make in the Pradesh Congress Committee.
This includes the possible appointment of a new state unit chief. The Haryana state unit is presently led by P C Mullana, who is close to Hooda.
This “right sizing” may also be done by striking a social balance in government where Hooda, a jat, is balanced out with the appointment of a non-jat as a deputy chief minister.
But much would depend on how the Haryana Janhit Congress’s relations with the Congress shape up. The Congress doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to accommodate Janhit’s Kuldip Bishnoi, particularly if he sets conditions for support. But if it offers unconditional support, Bishnoi’s chances increase of filling the deputy chief minister’s slot vacated by his brother Chander Mohan. That would also address the concerns of the non-jats.
In the recent assembly polls, both jat and non-jat vote had got divided to the Congress’s detriment. Birender Singh, who could have emerged as Hooda’s challenger had he won against Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) chief Om Prakash Chautala, however, lost and boosted Hooda’s chances of becoming chief minister once again.
The Congress had little option but to name Hooda as chief minister in the absence of a credible alternative.
Among the jat community, to which Hooda belongs, there was Kiran Chaudhary and among the non-jats, Randeep Singh Surjewala.
With former chief minister Chautala, a jat leader, doing well in the elections, the Congress could not have left the field wide open for him to consolidate the jat vote by opting for a non-jat CM.
The non-jat candidates for the post would have been Union minister Kumari Selja and Ajay Yadav.