Hooda in 'pink' of political health (Haryana Newsletter)
After the embarrassing times of the last few months, Haryana Chief Minister seems to be in the pink of political health - and not just metaphorically. The Congress rally at the Ramlila grounds in the national capital and the party meeting in Surajkund have put him back on solid political ground.
With a majority of the crowds at the Nov 4 Ramlila ground rally donning pink-coloured turbans, Hooda's day was made.
It showed that Haryana had sent the maximum number of people for the rally, being seen by many as a comeback move by the Congress after the party was hit by a spate of corruption scams in recent months.
A lot was at stake for the Congress and Hooda seems to have delivered in ensuring that the rally was a success.
Hooda and the Haryana Congress had asked crowds coming from the state to wear pink turbans to the turban so that they could be easily distinguished.
It is another matter that Haryana surrounds Delhi on three sides and the biggest numbers for the rally had to be from the state.
The rally and the meeting at Surajkund in Faridabad district saw him being at centre-stage with the top Congress leadership, especially Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
At the Ramlila ground rally, Hooda was on the stage with Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He made sure that his efforts for the rally were duly acknowledged as he asked the people at the venue to raise their hands if they came from Haryana.
Needless to say, a majority of the hands went up and it was there for all Congress national leaders to see.
The rally was followed by a meeting of the Congress top-brass and union ministers at Surajkund near New Delhi last week.
Here too, Hooda put up a good show, being the host. He could be seen giving shawls to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and the prime minister at the event.
Hooda's trusted ministers and leaders ensured foolproof arrangements for both the events.
Buses and trucks carrying the crowds for the Ramlila ground rally were ensured toll-free movement through toll barriers on the national highways in Haryana leading to New Delhi.
The Hooda-led Haryana government has been on the back foot in recent times owing to the spate of rapes in the state and the controversies over land deals, especially involving Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra.
His government was put on the defensive after Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Ashok Khemka cancelled the mutation of a Rs.58 crore land deal between Vadra and realty giant DLF.
The state government further defended the land deals of hundreds of acres done by Vadra in various districts of Haryana adjoining the national capital.
Hooda's government also had a lot of explaining to do with a spate of rapes in the last two months across Haryana.
Sonia Gandhi flew down to a village in Jind district to meet the family of a Dalit girl who was raped and had killed herself after the atrocity committed on her. The visit was seen as a low point for Hooda.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)