Barely two months ago, members of the ruling Congress were calling for assembly polls alongside the general election. In 2004 general election, the Congress had won 9 of the 10 seats and followed it up with a strong show in the assembly election.
Just as well that the Congress decided against calling for assembly polls because in the current scenario the party faces a tough fight from the BJP-INLD combine, the Haryana Janhit Congress-BL (HJC-BL) and the BSP.
The fight for the state's 10 Lok Sabha seats is tougher than what Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda (62) and other leaders had anticipated. A repeat of the 2004 show is going to be difficult even though Congress has a slight edge over its rivals in some constituencies. There is a direct fight between the Congress and the INLD-BJP on seven seats.
The LS polls are being perceived as the semi-final for the decisive battle for the state six months later. Bearing this in mind, all parties have gone all out to make their presence felt in the region.
Smaller players HJC-BL and BSP have exhibited enormous clout in the Hisar, Bhiwani-Mahendragarh and Gurgaon constituencies where caste loyalty will be an important factor. They are likely to play vote-splitters in two others.
In the absence of any obvious incumbency disadvantage and any major national issue, the Congress made development its poll agenda. However, its poll prospects are being dented by infighting.
The BJP-INLD alliance too had faced hiccups initially. But their leaders have put up an united face with former CM Om Prakash Chautala (74) going to the extent of addressing rallies for sitting MP Kishan Singh Sangwan (61) in Sonepat.