With INLD leaders in jail, Hooda fights partymen (Haryana Newsletter)
By Jaideep Sarin, Chandigarh, Mar 1 : With the leaders of the opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in jail, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda finds himself at loggerheads with detractors within his own Congress party.
Hooda, who has been chief minister since March 2005, has his hands full as many senior Congressmen oppose him tooth and nail.
If the Hooda faction thought things would be easier as the INLD president and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala cool their heels in jail after their conviction in the JBT (junior basic trained) teachers' recruitment scam, they could not be more wrong.
The Chautalas were convicted by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in New Delhi in January.
From union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Selja, to Congress general secretary Birender Singh and Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh, Hooda has quite a few top leaders within his own party who are proving to be difficult.
Within his own goverment, Hooda has the occasional barbs to deal with from Power Minister Ajay Singh Yadav.
While it is known in Congress circles here that Selja and Birender Singh have no love lost for Hooda, Rao Inderjit Singh has opened another front, announcing that he will be holding an 'insaaf' (justice) rally at Pataudi on Sunday to highlight the "step-motherly treatment" the Hooda government has meted out to Gurgaon.
Inderjit Singh has gone on record to point out that Hooda's home district, Rohtak, represented in the Lok Sabha by Hooda's son, Deepinder Hooda, has got the lion's share of development projects announced in the state in recent years. He has pointed out that Rohtak got 1,237 projects since 2005 (when Hooda became chief minister), compared to only 69 for Gurgaon.
For Haryana, the industrial and commercial belt of Gurgaon-Manesar is a goldmine, accounting for nearly 55 percent of the state's revenue.
Selja too has been a sore point for the Hooda camp. She is the Congress MP from Ambala, and has alleged discrimination by the state government against her constituency. A few legislators take her side in the matter.
Recently, Haryana Congress president Phool Chand Mullana, a Hooda loyalist, wrote to the Congress central leadership against moves by the Selja camp to create problems for the state government.
Birender Singh, who has always considered himself chief ministerial material, has also been articulate in his criticism of the Hooda administration.
For the Hooda camp, the problem is that Selja and Birender Singh are both considered close to the top national leaders of the Congress.
With Lok Sabha elections scheduled in April-May next year and state assembly elections to follow in September-October, the noises from various camps are likely to escalate in coming months.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at email@example.com)