Upbeat Cong for early Assembly polls in Haryana

Inspired by the impressive performance in the parliamentary elections in which the Congress won nine out of 10 seats, the Hooda government has reportedly convinced the party high command to advance the Assembly polls from February 2010 to sometime in October or November this year. That’s when Maharashtra is also scheduled to go to polls.

A flurry of political activity led by the chief minister himself — who is on a sop-announcing spree — and his ministers and MLAs — who have rediscovered their love for their voters by paying visits to their constituencies — are ample indications of the state Congress’ preparedness for early polls.

Besides the psychological boost of its good showing in the Lok Sabha polls, Congressmen see the advantages of early polls. For one, Hooda’s relatively clean image and his many incentives for all sections of society have created an atmosphere of goodwill for the Congress.

Cheap power for farmers, loan waiver, doubling of allowances for unemployed youth, hike in allowances of government staff, doubling of old age and disability pension (and special allowance for even eunuchs!) and liberal scholarships for SC and OBC students and girls are some of the measures that have proved popular among the masses.

The dominant Jat community seems to have decisively shifted in favour of the Congress with Hooda taking the mantle of Jat leadership away from the predominantly Jat-centric parties like the INLD. Besides, the opposition in the state is badly fragmented and demoralised. INLD has seen a plethora of defections, with former ministers and former MPs quitting the party blaming the dictatorial style of functioning of the party leadership. The BJP is still rankled by the failure of the alliance.

The rise of BSP

The BSP, though failing to win any seat, had put up a commendable performance in the parliamentary polls in the state as it increased its vote share to more than three times to 15.73 per cent as against its vote share of 4.98 per cent in 2004 elections.

Though the Congress vote share had marginally dropped to 41.46 per cent in 2009 polls from 42.13 per cent in 2004 polls, the party was able to retain its nine seats won last time because of division in opposition votes. The party hopes to gain from the split in the opposition vote share among two alliances — the INLD-BJP and the HJC-BSP.

With Hooda’s own image in the party getting refurbished by the parliamentary poll results, the Congress dissidents are also likely to lay low in the run-up to the Assembly polls. Prior to the parliamentary polls, two senior ministers in the Hooda Cabinet had publicly slammed him for ignoring their claim for party tickets and had even covertly worked against some of the official party nominees. However, the poll results firmly put Hooda in the driver’s seat with even his son, Deepender winning from Rohtak by over 4.50 lakh votes, the highest margin of victory recorded in the 2009 parliamentary polls.

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