Chandigarh, May 7 (IANS) It is a high-stakes battle for the Hooda father-son duo and also for their Congress party in these parliamentary polls in Haryana where the legacy matters and where the party has been on a steady downhill journey since its humiliating rout in 2014.
Former two-time Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, 72, is trying his luck from the Sonipat Lok Sabha constituency, while son Deepender Hooda, 41, is in the fray from his home turf of Rohtak for a fourth straight victory.
Hooda junior was the only Congress candidate among 10 in the state to make it to the 2014 Lok Sabha despite being bedridden then.
“The victory of the Hooda duo will mean the revival of the Congress just ahead of the assembly elections. Their defeat means a referendum on BJP policies in the state,” a political analyst told IANS.
The Bhupinder Singh Hooda was not keen to enter the fray at this point in time, a senior party leader told IANS. He was, however, convinced by the party high command to contest from a constituency that is a stronghold of the Jat community.
The stakes are high for Hooda senior in these election as he is trying to prove that he is still a mass leader and could lead the party in the forthcoming assembly polls also, the senior party leader said.
Hooda was marginalised after the party’s humiliating defeat in the October 2014 assembly polls.
This time, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supremo Om Prakash Chautala’s grandson Digvijay Chautala will take on Hooda, who had defeated his great grandfather Devi Lal, thrice from the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat.
Digvijay is in fray as the Jannayak Janta Party candidate, a breakaway of the INLD and an alliance partner of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The ruling BJP has renominated its sitting MP Ramesh Kaushik, who defeated Jagbir Singh Malik of the Congress by a margin of 77,414 votes.
In a statement, a confident Hooda said: “I am willing to resign if Digvijay does not lose his deposit.”
He is also confronting allegations of being an “outsider’ in Sonipat, a constituency that shares a border with the National Capital Region with the reply: “I am the son-in-law of Sonipat.”
Hooda’s wife belongs to the Sonipat constituency, where five of the nine assembly segments are held by the Congress.
In contrast to his father, Deepender Hooda is confident of retaining his Rohtak bastion.
In the past 11 out 17 times, the Congress has won the Jat-dominated Rohtak seat, which this time is likely to witness a four-cornered fight among the BJP, the Congress, the INLD and the Jannayak Janta Party.
The Hoodas — Deepender Hooda, his father Bhupinder Hooda and grandfather Ranbir Singh Hooda — have represented Rohtak nine times.
In 2014 polls, Deepender Hooda won the seat by a margin of 170,627 votes by defeating the BJP’s O.P. Dhankar, who is now a cabinet minister in the Manohar Khattar-led state government.
Hooda junior told IANS that among the major achievements during his outgoing five-year stint, was the completion of the National Cancer Institute at the AIIMS campus in Jhajjar.
The completion of the IIM-Rohtak campus and Bahadurgarh metro are his other achievements on which he is banking to get another stint in Parliament.
Political observers say the Hooda junior is also cashing in on the legacy of his family.
“If you belong to a political family, you get an opportunity for the first time. The next time you can survive in democracy only because of your hard work,” a humble Deepender Hooda added.
All the 10 parliamentary constituencies in Haryana will vote in the sixth round of the seven-phased Lok Sabha election on May 12. The votes will be counted on May 23.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])