Daunting task ahead for Bhupinder Hooda
In order to get third time lucky to sit at Chief Minister's chair, Hooda must first of all find an answer to the increasing pace at which several disgruntled leaders are deserting Congress's sinking ship. Congress stalwarts, who once formed party's state unit's core, are either quitting party to join rivals BJP and INLD or floating their own parties.
This jumping ship phenomena is not going to help the party which has recently suffered its worst ever poll loss at the hands of the BJP. The grand old party of India had failed to open its account in every major state in the general elections. Same was the case in Haryana, where the party under Hooda's leadership bagged only one out of 10 seats in Haryana in the Lok Sabha polls as against 9 seats it had won in 2009 LS polls.
Who all deserted Congress, Hooda?
Series of desertions in a period of just few months has left the ruling Congress red faced. With these desertions also emerged the growing dissent in the party over Hooda, who enjoys the blessings of party chief Sonia Gandhi. Top leaders in the party were not happy with Hooda's style of functioning.
Dissention growing within Haryana Congress against Hooda
In the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, the party had lost top leaders from the state in the name of Rao Inderjit Singh, a former union minister, apart from Dharambir, chief parliamentary secretary, Ramesh Kaushik, a former minister and former MLA Nripendra Sangwan, chairman of the Congress's ex-servicemen cell, to the BJP.
Rao Inderjit, now a BJP MP from Gurgaon is a minister in the Narendra Modi government while Dharambir and Kaushik too are BJP MPs.
Hooda's close associate and former union minister Venod Sharma left the party and floated his own Jan Chetna Party.
Only last week, Avtar Singh Bhadana who was a four-time MP on Congress ticket is reportedly going to joing Om Prakash Chautala's INLD. AICC general secretary Birender Singh too has resigned from CWC membership and is set to join the BJP in a few days.
Reason for rising desertion
One wonders what has possibly went wrong that has triggered such a mass exodus of seasoned politicians from the party. Well, almost everyone, who has quit from the party, has accused Hooda government of focusing towards select few districts for carrying out developments. Rohtak, Hooda's home constituency, has received maximum favour from the government and has got prestigious projects such as an IIT, IIM, an AIIMS-like institute, Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, National Cancer Institute, Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex, Film and Television Institute, IIHM, Institute of Urban Planing and Architecture and National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management.
Party insiders like Captain Ajay Yadav, a minister, Kumari Selja, a former union minister, and Kiran Choudhry may have not left the party but are unhappy with the Congress strongman.
More worries for Congress, Hooda
The party needs to quickly set its house in order to face another big challenge that is increasing popularity of the BJP in the state. A recent pre-poll survey has predicted BJP emerging as the biggest party and getting a clear majority. The pre-poll survey was shown giving whopping 46 seats to the BJP which will form a Government on its own in the upcoming 90-member assembly polls in Haryana.
Even BJP's master strategist and newly appointed national president Amit Shah was heard enthusing confidence that the party will form government in Haryana on its own. The Congress as per the survey would get barely 10 seats, if elections were to be held now.
The only positive this pre-poll survey had for Hooda, was that despite, drop in Congress's credibility a majority of people still saw the Congress strongman as their first choice as CM. This is only because there is no top leader of Hooda's stature in the opposition. It is the only positive for Hooda, who must gather his socks and work for reorganization of the party before the poll bugle in the state is sounded else it will be too late for the Congress as well as Hooda.
Hooda, however, claims that his popularity among voters is a good 37 percent, despite the land scams and charges of corruption against his government. He says with just two percent more votes, he will form a government again. But the pre-poll survey, although it's too early, has deflated his claims.