Millennium Post

Hooda set in election mode

 Haryana chief minister Bhupender Singh Hooda has completed four years of his second consecutive term. He has become the longest serving CM in his state as far as continuation on the post without any break is concerned.  He is also aspiring for a consecutive third-time victory, much like Sheila Dikshit in Delhi, for his party, the Congress, and perhaps for his present post in the next Assembly elections due sometimes in September-October 2014, after the Lok Sabha elections. 

 Currently, the country is witnessing Assembly elections in five states.  One might have noticed that Hooda is already in election mode, as he has been making silent as well as visible preparations for over a year now, right from 2012. 

Haryana CM has been inserting full-page advertisements and showcasing his government’s achievements, in a similar vein as his counterparts in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, all poll-bound states.  The election process of the five Assemblies in MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Mizoram is due to be completed by middle of December 2013.  Apart from the advertorial overdrive, the Hooda government has been vigorously airing radio jingles on various welfare schemes on different FM channels in Haryana and Delhi.  The government has also been inserting advertisements on the birth and death anniversaries of the prominent leaders, freedom fighters, social reformers and religious leaders, besides using occasions such as religious festivals as platforms for self-promotion in almost all newspapers in the state and neighbouring Delhi. 

One may also note that the state of Haryana has always been ahead of all other states and union territories in this regard.  The state has been propagating its schemes stating that the welfare projects were first implemented in Haryana, before other states in the country.  During last assembly elections, Hooda banked on the slogan, ‘Number one Haryana.’ Most likely, the CM would like to improvise the slogan for the next polls.  Hooda, along with his son and an MP from Rohtak, Deepender Hooda, has intensified the campaign at the ground level by organising major rallies across the state.   The Hoodas have been taking all precautionary steps to contain the influence of their detractors like Selja, Birendar Singh and Rao Inderjit Singh and avoid recurrence of a 2009-like situation, when the Hoodas were forced to bring six MLAs from Kuldip Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress and rest from the Independents in their fold to stake claim to form the government.  

Moreover, OP Chautala’s party was very close to the Congress and the former could not gather the required numbers in a state known for horse-trading and defections. The present strength in 90-member assembly is 46 Congress, INLD 30, BJP 4, while BSP, Haryana Janhit Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal one each.  Seemingly, the Hoodas have started well this time as they planned the campaign strategy much in advance to ensure a clear majority and a smooth sailing in putting claim to form the government for the third consecutive term.
Haryana is likely to witness a triangular contest in the ensuing Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.  A similar contest between the Congress, INLD and BJP-HJC combine was witnessed during last assembly election in 2009.  The INLD president OP Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala are behind the bars, hence the party is being run by Abhay Chautala, younger son of the former CM.  The BJP-HJC combine has yet to pick up pace whereas Congress has been galvanising its cadres. 

The land of the three Lals –  Devi Lal, Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal – would be electing the 10th CM in the elections for the 13th Assembly of the state, born on 1 November 1966 after bifurcation of Punjab on linguistic basis.  OP Chautala had been sworn in as the CM four times already; Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal three times each, Devi Lal, BD Gupta and Hooda two times each and BD Sharma, Rao Birender Singh and Master Hukum Singh each once.  Altogether Bansi Lal ruled for 4,633 days, Bhajan Lal for 3,952 days, OP Chautala 2,051 days, Devi Lal 1,608 days, BD Gupta for 517 days and the present CM Hooda has completed nine years i.e. 3,085 days and still counting. 

 Bhajan Lal first became CM during Janata Party rule by taking majority party MLAs on Bharat Yatra to unseat the then CM Devi Lal.  Bhajan Lal could complete two full terms whereas Chautala and Bansi Lal were able to complete one full term each.  Bansi Lal completed one full term despite being the altogether longest-serving CM in his three phases.  Chautala took oath on four occasions but could complete only one term.  Rao Birender Singh, BD Gupta, Devi Lal, BD Sharma and Hukum Singh could not complete single term though BD Gupta took over the post of the CM, first as a Congressman and as protégé of Bansi Lal, and second as protégé of Devi Lal. 

 The present CM is likely to complete his consecutive second term next year, hence he would be ruling for 3,450 days in continuation, the highest in continuation, more than Bansi Lal ruling in continuation for a period of 2,749 days from 1968 to 1975. If Hooda gets through in the next assembly elections and succeeds in completing his full third term too, he would become the longest serving CM, that too in continuation, leaving behind Bansi Lal ruling the state for 4,633 days in three phases.

The author is a communication consultant
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