Turnout at Hooda’s rallies sets alarm bells ringing for BJP

first_imgThe large turnouts at the public meetings of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda during the second leg of his Jan Kranti Yatra in Panipat, covering around 60 villages across four Assembly constituencies of the district in three days this past week, seem to suggest that the mood in the State is palpable for a political change ahead of the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections next year.This has set the alarm bells ringing for the State’s BJP leadership, as three of the four Assembly constituencies in the district are held by the party and none by the Congress.Major promisesHaving mustered a simple majority for the first time in the State, riding mainly on the “Modi wave”, the BJP seems to have squandered the opportunity, failing to deliver on its major promises of employment generation, implementation of Swaminathan Commission report and crackdown on corruption, besides inept handling of Jat reservation agitation and Ram Rahim conviction aftermath.Despite its “Haryana Ek-Haryanvi Ek” slogan, the party has been accused of creating a rift between the Jats and other groups for political gains.Also, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s Cabinet colleagues, BJP MLAs and party’s Gurugram MP and Union Minister of State for Planning (Independent Charge) Rao Inderjit Singh have publicly cast doubts over his leadership, not helping the party’s cause.Summing up the mood in the region, Satpal, a tea stall owner off National Highway 709 near Ishrana, said: “The people in Haryana voted for (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi with much hope, but his team in the State has failed him. Disappointed, the people are now turning back to Hooda.”Though the Aam Aadmi Party and the Indian National Lok Dal in an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party are vying to cash in on the resentment against the ruling party, Mr. Hooda seems ahead of his rivals with a huge mass appeal among the farmers, Dalits and the support of dominant Jat community in the stretch dominated by Deswali Jats that includes Rohtak, Panipat, Kaithal and Jind.Despite facing allegations of corruption in land deals, Mr. Hooda has emerged as an undisputed leader of the farmers in the State after former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal because of his pro-farmer decisions, such as waiving off electricity bills and farm loans worth ₹1,600 crore, increased compensation for land acquisition and hike in Minimum Support Price during his 10-year rule.Though Mr. Hooda maintains in his speeches that all sections are disillusioned with the present State government, his emphasis remains on the plight of the farmers and the Dalits in Haryana.New leadership Political analysts believe that Mr. Hooda’s charisma could lead the Congress to victory in the State if he is made the face of his party. However, infighting, delay in deciding on the new leadership and disarrayed organisational set-up in the State could mar the party’s prospects. If the Congress fails to seize the opportunity, it could be advantage INLD and BSP with the Jats turning to them to keep the BJP out.last_img

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