Bhupinder Hooda takes rath yatra route to outsmart rivals in BJP, Congress
Eye on the hot seat | Hooda’s decision is being seen as a loud message to the party high command about his “mass base” in the state ahead of the 2019 assembly pollsUpdated: Dec 23, 2017 12:46 IST
Haryana Congress leader and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who has been desperately trying to retrieve his sagging political stature in the party, is set to roll out a “rath yatra” in February next year. By flexing his political muscles, Hooda is clearly trying to send out a loud message to the party high command about his “mass base” ahead of the 2019 Haryana assembly polls.
Hooda, the former two-term Congress chief minister, has been on the back foot after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dethroned the Congress in October 2014. His political troubles have been on the rise ever since the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government started generating heat through the alleged corruption cases pertaining to land acquisitions.
But the “rath yatra” decision comes at a time when the knives are out in the faction-ridden Haryana Congress, which has been grappling with internal squabbles over the leadership issue. The key political objective of Hooda’s rath yatra seems to be to outmanoeuvre his adversaries within the Congress who are in the race to lead the party in the run-up to assembly elections.
This latest gambit of Hooda is significant in the backdrop of Khattar again hinting, earlier this week, to hold Haryana assembly polls along with the Lok Sabha elections due in May 2019.
“I am concerned about the state of the Congress in Haryana as there is nothing that exists in the name of party’s organisation structure. There is a dire need to revamp the party and strengthen it at the block and booth level. The earlier we take such steps, the better it will be,” Hooda told Hindustan Times, in a veiled attack at state unit chief Ashok Tanwar.
Asked to spell out the larger objective of this rath yatra, he said: “Let people draw their own conclusions.” He repeatedly stated that the organisational structure of the party in the state was in tatters.
Hooda, however, insisted that the objective of the “rath yatra” is to expose “the BJP’s misrule.”
He said the condition of Haryana is deteriorating and people are suffering due to a “series of missteps” the BJP government has taken. “Hence, this decision to launch the rath yatra,” said Hooda, who represents Garhi Sampla Kiloi segment in Haryana Vidhan Sabha.
After the last round of ongoing kisan panchayat meetings at Palwal and Karnal, the rath yatra will be launched in a phased manner either from Kalka, Hodel, Mahendragarh or Sirsa. The contours of this rath yatra, Hooda said, are being drawn. At least two assembly segments will be covered every week and the yatra will complete with a mega rally.
Hooda said: “The BJP had made 154 promises in its manifesto and not a single promise has been fulfilled. Khattar government is functioning like an event management company. People from every section of the society are suffering due to ill-conceived decisions of the BJP government. The objective of my rath yatra will be to highlight the failures of this government and turn the tide against the BJP.”
The Hooda-led camp has been demanding the ouster of Tanwar on the grounds that Hooda, the most prominent Jat leader of the Congress, should head the party in the state.
This latest gambit of Hooda is significant in the backdrop of CM Khattar again hinting, earlier this week, to hold Haryana assembly polls along with the Lok Sabha elections due in May 2019.
Haryana Congress is a divided house with different claimants for the post of state party chief. Hooda and the state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar have been locking horns with each other. Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Kiran Choudhry, All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, former Union minister Kumari Selja are other key leaders and in the race to head the party.
Party insiders say the timing of announcing the “rath yatra” is vital as the party high command is likely to decide the next state party president. By targeting the state government via the “rath yatra”, the key objective of Hooda is to turn the tide in his favour on the leadership issue.
Jats play a decisive role in Haryana politics.
First Published: Dec 23, 2017 12:45 IST