HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

She’s standing tall against odds

Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, August 29, 2014
First Published: 11:18 IST(29/8/2014) | Last Updated: 17:47 IST(29/8/2014)

She was a late entrant to the Haryana cabinet post-2009 government formation. Despite having remained a minister of state in the 2005 Congress government, Kiran Choudhry (59) was cold shouldered by the party high command in 2009.

The reasons were political — her strained relations with chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the need to accommodate Independent MLAs as ministers for government’s survival.

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Accusations from fellow Congress leaders including her estranged brothers-in-law, Ranbir Mahendra and Somvir Singh, that she had sabo-taged the poll prospects of Congress candidates in Bhiwani also did not help her cause. As a result, her political stock took a dip.

After remaining in wilderness for over a year, the ebullient Choudhry bounced back in early 2011.

Not only she was sworn in as a full cabinet rank minister but Hooda accommodated her well by giving her impor-tant portfolios of excise and taxation and public health engineering.
Having built her bridges with the chief minister, Choudhry refrained from showing any defiance or rebellious streak for the most part of her tenure as a minister. But she would grudgingly express her resentment for the alleged neglect of Bhiwani in general and her constituency, Tosham in particular.
During one of the assembly sessions, Kiran was seen grumbling over the poor state of road infrastructure in Bhiwani district. Despite assurances, she asked the chief minister whether the government has set up some deadline to improve the conditions of the roads.
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Known to be a combative and confident minister, Kiran made her displeasure public when the state government introduced pillar box scheme in her home district, Bhiwani.

However, the scheme caused public resentment. When during an assembly session INLD leader, Ashok Arora pointed out to her sarcastically that the pillar box scheme would yield good results, Kiran was quick to tell him: “Phir isse aap apne yahan lagwa lijiye. (You get it fixed in your constituency then).”

On one occasion, she refused to attend a meeting of the council of ministers until the chief minister ordered the transfer of the Bhiwani deputy commissioner. 
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Her domineering mannerisms also made her one of the most feared ministers around.  Kiran’s outburst at a meeting of high powered purchase committee where she got enraged over the delay in the supply of ductile iron (DI) pipes by private contractors and indulged in a verbal row with a senior IAS officer were indicative of her style of functioning.  Throughout her term, Kiran’s availability at state headquarters in Chandigarh remained scarce.

“Often official files were sent to Delhi for disposal and in person consultations took a back seat,’’ sources said.
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Though Kiran suffered a political setback when her daughter Shruti Choudhry lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls finishing third behind BJP and INLD candidates, she can take some solace from the fact that Shruti led by about 10,000 votes in her (Kiran’s) assembly constituency, Tosham.
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Tomorrow: Shiv Charan Lal sharma, Labour & employment minister

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