Odds stacked up against Congress in Haryana

Last Updated 26 March 2014, 21:09 IST

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

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

For the 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 the anti-incumbency factor, the Congress has put up a brave front fielding six of its sitting MPs and three sitting MLAs for the Lok Sabha polls.

The Haryana BJP with its consistency of meagre vote share never looked threatening for the Congress, until now. Its alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) led by Kuldeep Bishnoi promises a turnaround, both in vote share and seats. The BJP, which bagged its lone LS seat back in 2004, is hoping to gain out of the ‘Modi wave’ it flaunts all over.

The prime opposition party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) is gaining ground and sympathy even as its two top leaders, former CM Om Prakash Chautala and son Ajay Chautala, are behind bars after their conviction in the infamous recruitment scandal.

The entry of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaves the contest wide open given that 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 Congress has an envious track record when it comes to LS elections. It won 9 out of 10 seats in 2004 and justified its credibility yet again in 2009 winning exactly the same number of seats. The Congress vote share in the last two parliamentary elections has been more than the vote share of the INLD and the BJP put together.

Yet, the political landscape appears to have altered.

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

(Published 26 March 2014, 21:09 IST)

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