Fazed Cong to do without CM candidate in Jatland

Congress Party (DH File Image)

The Congress has decided against announcing its chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Assembly elections in Haryana.

Unlike its experiment in neighbouring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, where the Congress announced a chief ministerial candidate ahead of the elections, the party is unwilling to take chances in Jatland. The grand old party is battling severe internal strife in the state and party leaders feel announcing the CM candidate beforehand could prove counterproductive.

Even though the party is reluctantly banking on former chief minister B S Hooda, naming him or any other leader as the face of the election may trigger another bout of irreparable dissent. The party faces a major challenge from dissenters, who may further dampen the Congress' beleaguered prospects.

At least three dozen prominent Congress leaders, including 22 former ministers and MLAs, have quit the party in the run up to this election. Whether it wins or loses, the party high command may keep its options open on leaders who could provide sustainable plans for the Congress in the long run.

Ahead of the 2004 Assembly elections, the Congress projected former Haryana CM Bhajan Lal as its face. Yet, the party altered its strategy abruptly after the Congress won the polls. The Congress high command side-lined Bhajan Lal to coronate Hooda as the chief minister.  

Hooda has managed a lion’s share in ticket distribution, with several senior leaders, including former minister Capt Ajay Yadav, Ashok Tanwar, terming the list skewed and arguably bereft of winnable candidates.

Despite once being a Congress stronghold under Hooda, Haryana has witnessed a tectonic shift in favour of the saffron party which appears securely placed to take on the Opposition.

This election will be a litmus test for Hooda, who is leading the campaign close on the heels of the recent loss in the Lok Sabha elections, where his party failed to secure even one seat out of 10 in Jatland. The odds are stacked against the Congress and Hooda, though no rookie in politics, has his task cut out for him ahead of the October 21 polls.  

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