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Other States - Haryana Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

`Hooda still in the race for CM's post'

By Rajesh Ahuja

CHANDIGARH, FEB.24 . With barely three days left before the outcome of the Haryana Assembly elections for the 90 seats is known this coming Sunday, close associates of the Member of Parliament from Rohtak and former president of the Haryana unit of the Congress, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, are quite hopeful that the Jat leader, who was interestingly not "allowed'' to contest the Vidhan Sabha polls, still stands a good chance of being appointed the Chief Minister if the Congress comes to power in the State. They feel that he is "close to the party supreme, Sonia Gandhi, has a clean image, and has brought the Jats back to the Congress fold.''

In fact, Mr. Hooda's supporters argue that even though he did not get the party ticket he campaigned in nearly 50 constituencies by helicopter and specially-made chariot. Moreover, they assert that credit must go to Mr. Hooda for bringing about a sea-change in the anti-Congress attitude of the Jats who till now had been worshipping the late Sir Chottu Ram, the late Prime Minister, Charan Singh, the late Deputy Prime Minister, Devi Lal, and the present Chief Minister and Indian National Lok Dal supremo, Om Parkash Chautala and subscribing to their anti-Congress stance. They further say that the image of Mr. Chautala as a champion of farmers had crumbled especially after the Kandela agitation in which several farmers were killed in police firing. While asserting that it was Mr.Hooda who applied the salve on farmers' wounds, they claim that the Congress won nine out of 10 Lok Sabha seats due to this factor alone. It is also being projected that had Mr.Hooda been permitted to contest the Vidhan Sabha polls, the scenario would have been altogether different in the farmer- dominated areas.

While admitting that in the totality of things, the chances of Mr.Hooda occupying the top slot in the State are "weak'', they assert that in case Mrs.Gandhi decides to bring in a new leader who has a clean and honest image, then his name can be counted among the top Jat contenders for the post. They also remark privately that the other Jat leaders in the State are nowhere in the reckoning as it is only Mr.Hooda who can seriously challenge the former Chief Minister and Haryana unit President, Bhajan Lal, and "prevent'' him from becoming the Chief Minister for yet another stint. Interestingly, it is also being put forward that a non-Jat (Mr.Bhajan Lal) cannot become the Chief Minister as there are already two non-Jats in the Union Government (Inderjit Singh and Selja).

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