Anti-incumbency yet Cong puts up brave face in Har

Between UPA-II and the Congress-led Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in Haryana, the similarity in the odds that are stacked up ahead of the elections will worry any political outfit, certainly Congress. 

Both are battling 10 years of anti-incumbency, are marred by desertions, factionalism and blemished by corruption charges in the face of a formidable opposition that appears battle ready more than ever.

For Congress and Hooda, the result of the 10 parliamentary seats in Haryana and the fate of the UPA at the Centre will be even more critical, for this is the state that faces Assembly elections thereafter. Despite anti-incumbency, Congress has put up a brave front fielding six of its MPs and three MLAs for the Lok Sabha polls. 

The Haryana BJP with its consistency of meagre vote share in Haryana never looked threatening for Congress, until now. 

BJP’s alliance with Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) led by Kuldeep Bishnoi promises a turnaround, both in vote share and seats. The BJP is hoping to cash in on the ‘Modi wave’, which it flaunts all over. 

The main opposition party, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), is gaining ground and sympathy though its two top leaders, former chief minister Om Parkash Chautala and son Ajay Chautala, are behind bars after being convicted in a teachers recruitment scandal. 

The entry of the political greenhorn outfit, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), leaves the contest wide open and fast changing given that the party’s top leaders, Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, are both from Haryana, the latter already making his presence felt as a party nominee from Gurgaon. The AAP in Haryana could prove to be a spoiler in vote share.  

Congress has an envious track record when it comes to LS elections. It won nine out of 10 seats in 2004 and justified its credibility yet again in 2009, wining exactly the same number of seats. Congress’ vote share in the last two parliamentary elections has been more than the vote share of the INLD and the BJP put together in the state. Yet the political landscape appears to have been altered. 

Congress stalwarts have been reluctant to contest, many jumping over to the BJP, perhaps, sensing triumph on the other side. Dalit leader Kumari Selja, the Lok Sabha MP from Ambala, found solace in managing a Rajya Sabha seat. 

Old warhorse and senior Congress leader Rao Inderjit Singh left the party to contest the Gurgaon seat on a BJP ticket. Chief Parliamentary Secretary Dharambir also deserted the Congress. There are reports that state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar too was reluctant to contest from Sirsa. 

The INLD patriarch and former chief minister Chautala and his son Ajay are in jail and debarred from contesting elections. But Chautala’s younger son Abhay and the next generation heir apparent leader Dushyant, Chautala’s grandson, are burning the midnight oil, turning adversity into strength, riding on sympathy votes and Hooda’s anti-incumbency. 

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