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Unfazed by CBI chargesheet, Bhupinder Singh Hooda to launch rath yatra on February 25

Before announcing the first-phase of the yatra, the strongman from the Jat bastion of Rohtak held a four-hour long meeting with his supporters, including 13 of the total 17 sitting Congress MLAs in the Vidhan Sabha, at his residence in Delhi.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2018 14:21 IST
Pawan Sharma
Pawan Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
CBI chargesheet,Bhupinder Singh Hooda,rath yatra
Bhupinder Singh Hooda(HT File )

Haryana Congress leader and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who was named in a CBI chargesheet in the Manesar land case last Friday, will launch his ‘rath yatra’ on February 25 from Hodel in Palwal district—the Southern corner of the state being ruled by the BJP.

The objective of Hooda’s ‘rath yatra’ cleverly named ‘jan kranti yatra’ is aimed at garnering public sympathy and regaining his political clout within the Haryana Congress, which has been involved in a factional feud over the post of state party chief.

HT Explainer | Manesar Land scam: Hooda, aides accused of misuse of acquisition Act

Before announcing the first-phase of the yatra, the strongman from the Jat bastion of Rohtak held a four-hour long meeting with his supporters, including 13 of the total 17 sitting Congress MLAs in the Vidhan Sabha, at his residence in Delhi.

Hooda said that nearly 100 prominent Congress leaders, including ex-MLAs, MPs and even those who unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha and assembly elections were present in this meeting.

‘Rath yatra’ is the latest desperate gamble of two-time chief minister and the prominent Jat leader to outmanoeuvre his rivals within and outside the party in the run-up to assembly elections next year.

Also present were former state Congress presidents Phool Chand Mulana and Dharam Pal Malik, besides Rohtak Lok Sabha MP Deepinder Singh Hooda and Rajya Sabha MP Shadi Lal Batra.

“The key objectives of my yatra will be ‘bhaichara, badlav aur khush-hali (brotherhood, ousting the state government and making Haryana prosperous). Naa Hooda jhukega, naa rath rookega (Neither Hooda will bend over nor the chariot will halt),” Hooda said over phone, pointing out his resolve to launch the offensive.

Hooda reiterated that he was unruffled by the CBI chargesheet and said, “These false cases cannot scare Hooda and those who think of browbeating me via such cases are making a huge political mistake.”

Hooda gave a call to all the active members of the party to assemble in Hodel on February 25. The contours of the first and the second phase of the yatra will be given final shape in this meeting. Party leaders present in the meeting in Delhi said that the first phase yatra will be of four days and that the second phase yatra will be announced after the state government fixes the budget session schedule.

At the core of Hooda’s renewed offensive is his extreme anxiety to bounce back on the political arena of the state by targeting the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government, which came to power in October 2014.

Another key objective that Hooda wants to achieve is to send out a message about his “mass base” and force the party high command to replace state party chief Ashok Tanwar. Haryana Congress is a divided house with different claimants for the post of state party chief. But the CBI charge sheet seems to have dented Hooda’s chances of replacing Tanwar.

And the ‘rath yatra’ is the latest desperate gamble of two-time chief minister and the prominent Jat leader to outmanoeuvre his rivals within and outside the party in the run-up to assembly elections next year.

First Published: Feb 05, 2018 14:21 IST