Sources said the Congress has several other chief ministerial candidates, including Randeep Surjewala and Kiran Choudhry.
Chandigarh: Haryana Assembly elections are due next year, and in all probability the ruling BJP could recommend simultaneous holding of these elections with the Parliamentary elections in May 2019. The BJP’s strategy would be to fight the Assembly elections n the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and project chief minister M.L. Khattar as its face in the state. The move can force the Congress in Haryana to name chief ministerial face in the state, sparking friction within the Opposition party.
The Congress so far is saying it will not project anyone as a chief ministerial candidate in the state, however, it cannot afford to alienate large section of voters (especially Jats) who are fence sitters for now, but could switch loyalties towards Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) or atleast get split between the two parties and benefit BJP if a candidate from their community is not considered for the top post.
Recently, state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar said, “The Congress usually does not declare its chief ministerial candidate before any Assembly elections. The leader of the legislature party is elected after the elections. It is only in certain exceptional circumstances that the chief ministerial candidate is declared before the polls. I think there are no exceptional circumstances in Haryana where the party’s priority is to throw out the inefficient BJP government.”
Mr Tanwar’s statement assumes importance in the context of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is aggressively campaigning through his Jan kranti Yatra, an his supporters mounting pressure on the party to rename him as the chief ministerial nominee.
Sources said the Congress has several other chief ministerial candidates, including Randeep Surjewala and Kiran Choudhry. In fact, supporters of Mr Tanwar want him to be projected as the future chief minister.
However, Mr Hooda is doing his bit to get projected as the Congress chief ministerial candidate. He has started fifth phase of his yatra last week from Mahendragarh. Mr Hooda’s plan is to not stop for the next six months as public mobilisation has been encouraging.
His son, Deepender Hooda, said, “Both parties keep targeting him. Even (BJP chief) Amit Shah at his last Jind rally targeted my father in his speech and told people that their slogans should reach Hooda’s ears.”
He, however, steered clear on the leadership question. “The Congress stands united with its national leadership and ideology. As far as the state leadership is concerned, I am confident that the Congress high command will take a right decision, at a right time, and such a decision will ensure that everyone comes together and the Congress wins here,” he said.
Political observers feel that as the BJP’s strategy is to consolidate the non-Jat votes, it becomes important for the Congress to focus on Jat votes and so far they are not committed to any party and could return to the Congress if a Jat is named as the chief ministerial candidate. Otherwise, the Congress may lose them to the INLD which is already telling Jats that a Jat will not be projected as the chief minister by the Congress so INLD is their choice.The Congress’ decline in 2014 is attributed to the 32 per cent vote-bank of Jats and Jat Sikhs moving to the BJP.