Haryana CM Hooda and Jat in General Election

Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda tagged his election catchline "Number one". He has emerged `number one' by a distance in Haryana affairs, with the first list of nominations of 68 candidates showing that 64 are his pick. The Congress leadership's overwhelming bet on Hooda comes even as, post-YSR, it is grappling with the question if CMs should be allowed to emerge as satraps. The trouble over succession issue in Andhra Pradesh has jolted the party to the flip side of a strong regional leader without a second rung. Hooda, however, retains the confidence of the high command as has emerged from the nominations for assembly polls. The other local leaders contending for a toehold in state affairs, be it Birendra Singh or suave dalit leader Selja Kumari or Kiran Chaudhary, seem to have come a cropper in their bid to stay afloat in assembly sweepstakes. While 13 sitting MLAs have been dropped, a senior leader revealed that the list has 64 candidates of Hooda's choice. Held out as the clearest example of CM's dominance in candidate selection is Somvir Singh who was opposed by his relative Kiran Chaudhary for having acted against her interests. He has been renominated from Loharu. Also, CM's OSD K V Singh has got the ticket from Dabwali despite opposition from anti-Hooda faction as has Kailasho Saini, a defector from INLD.
While the 22 seats held back for decision comprise mostly those where Hooda's nominees are facing opposition from rivals, it is likely that he would again get the lion's share. For Hooda to stamp his authority in such a one-sided way in nomination process demonstrates his continuing honeymoon with the leadership, an impressive feat given that five years ago he was installed by sidelining Bhajan Lal. Importantly, putting all its eggs in the Hooda basket shows that Congress does not mind deepening the social shift it announced in its strategy by giving its leadership to a Jat leader. It marks a big change from traditional party line when non-Jats formed the Congress base, in opposition to the INLD which represented the strong agrarian community. Congress feels its Jat experiment is a runaway success as it has triggered an exodus from the original Jat tent of INLD, a headstart in elections. Besides, a failure of non-Jat outfits like BSP, Haryana Janhit Congress and BJP to forge an alliance is a boon for the Congress.

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