Uphill task for Hooda in Haryana Bypolls



Chandigarh: Fresh from an embarrassing defeat in the Hisar Lok Sabha by-election, Haryana's ruling Congress and particularly Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda face a difficult task in the Nov 30 by-polls for the Adampur and Ratia assembly seats.

The major problem for the Congress party in both the constituencies is that they are strongholds of opposition parties.

"We have an uphill task. The recent defeat in Hisar, price rise and corruption - everything will go against the Congress," a minister in the Hooda government told rerporters on the condition of anonymity.

Senior Congress leaders say that it will be tough for the party candidates to wrest the seats from the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) respectively.

For the Hisar Lok Sabha by-poll, Hooda had led the Congress campaign, camping there continuously for over 15 days. Despite that, the Congress candidate, Jai Prakash, not only lost the election but finished a poor third and even forfeited his security deposit.

The Adampur constituency in Hisar district is the political stronghold of the family of former chief minister Bhajan Lal. His son, Kuldeep Bishnoi, who now heads the HJC, resigned from the seat last month after winning the crucial Hisar Lok Sabha seat by-election.

From 1968 onwards, the Adampur seat has remained with Bhajan Lal and his family members in 11 different assembly elections held there. Bhajan Lal himself won the seat a record nine times, including a by-election in May 2008 after being disqualified from the state assembly under the anti-defection law.

His emphatic victory in the by-election by over 26,000 votes, at the age of 77 years and ailing, was described by his political bĂȘte noire, Chief Minister Hooda, as a "politically meaningless non-event".

But Bhajan Lal - more famous in the early 1980s for engineering defections to come to power in Haryana - showed that he could still easily get the better of many, including a handful of namesake Bhajan Lals in the fray.

While Bhajan Lal won the Adampur seat in 1968, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2008, his wife Jasma Devi won it in 1987. His son Kuldeep Bishnoi won the seat in the October 2009 assembly election.

"We have decided to field Renuka Bishnoi (Kuldeep Bishnoi's wife) as the HJC-BJP candidate in Adampur this time," Bishnoi announced last week.

Even on the Ratia (reserved) seat, the Congress is hardly hopeful.

The Congress has won this seat only once, in 1982, that too by a margin of less than 200 votes when its candidate Neki Ram triumphed.

In the last three assembly elections in 2000, 2005 and 2009, the INLD has been winning the seat. The INLD is unlikely to yield its position on this seat this time too.

The seat fell vacant in September after the sitting INLD legislator Gian Chand Odh died following illness.

IANS