Home India Politics Haryana’s splintered opposition – and confident Congress

Haryana’s splintered opposition – and confident Congress

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

Ambala (Haryana) : Thanks to a divided and demoralized opposition, Haryana’s ruling Congress is confident of retaining power in the Oct 13 assembly elections and break a nearly four-decade jinx.

As the election day draws close, Congress leaders are upbeat. The last time a party returned to power in Haryana after ruling it for five years was in 1972.

“We have no contest this time. The opposition parties are fighting it out to see who comes number two. There is no opposition for most seats,” former union minister and the chairman of Haryana Congress campaign committee Venod Kumar Sharma told IANS.

Sharma, a Brahmin leader who is seeking re-election from Ambala city, is campaigning in other constituencies and districts for the Congress. His aides say he will win his own seat easily.

“I cannot tell you the exact number of seats the Congress will get, but I am quite sure it will be more than the last time,” said Sharma, who is the richest of all 1,122 contestants in fray for the 90 assembly seats. His assets are worth over Rs. 860 million (Rs.86 crore).

The Congress won 67 seats in February 2005. The Lok Sabha elections this year showed the party could still win 59 segments comfortably – even after over four years of Congress rule.

The Congress won nine out of 10 Lok Sabha seats. The result led Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to get the assembly dissolved seven months before its term ended and call for early state elections.

On most seats, there will be five-six cornered contests because the opposition has failed to form alliances to take on the Congress.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) broke up its alliance with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The BJP tried to have an alliance with the newly created Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) of former chief minister Bhajan Lal and his son Kuldeep Bishnoi, but a tie-up did not materialise.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which is making inroads in the state, also broke its two-moth old alliance with HJC in August.

In the May Lok Sabha poll, the HJC led in nine assembly segments, the BSP in eight and the INLD and BJP, which were in an alliance then, in seven segments each.

“The opposition parties have no ideology. The only true alliance in Haryana is that of the Congress with the people,” Hooda says as he tours the state. He is contesting the Garhi Sampla-Kiloi seat from Rohtak district.

Congress leaders are projecting the ‘Haryana No. 1 state’ slogan, claiming that the Hooda government has delivered on various fronts.

Opposition leaders question the ‘No. 1 state’ tag saying things had deteriorated during the Hooda regime. They blame the Congress for soaring prices and deteriorating law and order.

There are over 13.1 mn (1.31 crore) electors in the state.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])