Hooda takes Haryana reins again

The Jat strongman has to prove majority within a week

The short and simple ceremony was marred by chaotic scenes as enthusiastic Congress supporters swarmed the lawns of the Raj Bhavan.

Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia administered the oath of office and secrecy to Hooda who came here from Delhi where the intense battle for the chief ministerial candidate was fought at the doorsteps of the party high command.

Later talking to newspersons, a relieved Hooda said he had been given a week’s time to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly by the Governor. “The formation of council of ministers will be done only after proving our majority on the floor of the house”, he said.

In the 90-member Assembly, the Congress has 40 legislators, six short of the simple majority. Seven independents have extended support to the Hooda-led Congress government. The lone BSP MLA, Akram Khan, also extended his support to the Congress government on Sunday.

HJC support

Regarding Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) led by the father-son duo of Bhajan Lal-Kuldeep Bishnoi extending support to the government, Hooda said he would welcome “unconditional support” from anybody.

Hooda added that the HJC, which won six seats in the recent assembly polls, had been part of the “Congress family” only.

When asked about the lower than expected performance of the party, Hooda said they would introspect and try to rectify any shortcomings.

“My government will re-dedicate itself to the service of the people and for the all-round welfare of the state,” he added.

The past week has been a roller-coaster drive for Hooda after his gambit of preponing the assembly polls by seven months almost cost the party a second term with stunning results on October 13.

The Congress won only 40 seats compared to 67 it had won in 2005. His intra-party rivals including Union Minister Kumari Selja aided by Kiran Choudhary, Randeep Surjewala and Ajay Yadav then mounted a spirited challenge to Hooda's leadership blaming him for the party’s poor showing at the hustings.

However, the party high command plumped for Hooda after protracted discussions at Delhi.

With a strong opponent in the form of Om Prakash Chautala-led INLD which has 31 legislaors, and intra-party rivals who would be looking for an opportunity to trip him, Hooda may not have the smooth sailing he enjoyed during his first term. In the days ahead, he would have to constantly look over the shoulder for any challenge to his leadership.

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