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Tough road ahead for Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress in Haryana

Haryana Legislative Assembly was found in 1966 after its bifurcation from Punjab and the first assembly election in the state was contested in 1967 on 81 seats, with 66 seats allocated to the General category and 15 seats reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC).

Tough road ahead for Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress in Haryana

Chandigarh: Haryana Legislative Assembly was found in 1966 after its bifurcation from Punjab and the first assembly election in the state was contested in 1967 on 81 seats, with 66 seats allocated to the General category and 15 seats reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC).

The Indian National Congress (INC) contested the first-ever assembly election held in the state of Haryana and emerged as the single-largest party with bagging 48 seats and formed the government under the leadership of Rao Birender Singh. However, excessive political horse-trading and counter horse-trading took place in Haryana in 1967 triggering the worst cycle of political defections resulting in the dissolution of the Haryana Legislative Assembly.

The state Assembly election in the state was again held in 1968 wherein the Congress secured a clear cut majority by winning 48 seats with 41.33% vote share. Bansi Lal was the chief minister of the state.

In 1972, the Congress again emerged victorious by securing a clear majority and bagging 52 seats with 46.91% vote share. The government was formed first under Bansi Lal till 1975, and then Banarsi Das Gupta from 1975 to 1977.

In 1977, the assembly seats were increased from 81 to 90 with 73 seats allocated to the General category and 17 seats reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC). During the state election, the Janata Party managed to win the highest-ever mandate of 75 seats out of the 90-member assembly in the aftermath of the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi between 1975-1977. The Congress in the state was restricted to just three seats in 1977 polls.

In 1982, the Congress had emerged as a single-largest party with 36 seats but INLD and BJP together got 37 seats in total. As no party has a clear cut majority, it resulted in a hung assembly and Congress, along with the support of independents managed to form a coalition government with Bhajan Lal becoming the Chief Minister.

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In 1987, the Congress managed to bag mere five seats while the BJP finally emerged victorious when the LKD-BJP alliance secured a clear majority of 76 (60+16) out of 90 assembly seats.

The Congress returned back to power in 1991 after failing to in past two consecutive terms and won a clear majority of 51 seats with 33.73% vote share and formed the government with Bhajan Lal was the Chief Minister. In 1996, the BJP contested the polls in alliance with Haryana Vikas Party and Bansi Lal was elected as the Chief Minister of Haryana after the alliance won a majority. The Congress was limited to just winning nine seats with 20.8% vote share.

In the 2000 Haryana assembly election, the Congress won 21 seats with 31.22% vote share, while Om Prakash Chautala-led INLD came to power in the state with a clear majority after winning 47 seats in the 90-member Haryana assembly.

Ending its losing streak with a resounding victory in 2005 state election, the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government returned to power in the state bagging 67 seats with 42.46% vote share while the BJP was restricted to just two seats in the election. The Congress continued to dominate its electoral politics in Haryana in 2009 and won 40 with 35.08 vote share. Bhupinder Singh Hooda became the Chief Minister for a second consecutive term after forming a coalition government with the support of independents and Haryana Janhit Congress (BL).

The Congress could not manage to maintain its stronghold over Haryana in 2014 assembly election in the aftermath of receiving a humiliating defeat by the hands of BJP in Lok Sabha election 2014. While Manohar Lal Khattar led-BJP came to power after emerging as the single-highest vote share party bagging 47 seats with 33.20% vote share, the Congress was restricted to just 15 seats, while the INLD took 19.

The assembly election in Haryana was preceded by the 2014 Lok Sabha election which started the BJP's stupendous rise in the state. The BJP had registered a thumping victory in the state and the winning streak continued in the 2014 assembly election too.

Since Haryana attained statehood in 1966, the Indian National Congress has been the dominant party. However, Congress has been impacted by the constant infighting ahead of the Haryana assembly election 2019, scheduled to be held on October 21. 

In a major setback to Congress, just weeks before the state polls, former Haryana party chief Ashok Tanwar has resigned from the party. In his resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Ashok Tanwar had said that the Indian National Congress was going through an existential crisis, not because of its political opponents, but because of serious internal contradictions.

Allegations of ticket distribution and ticket even being 'sold' by the top leadership of the grand old party were made by the outgoing leader.  Its a tough road for two-time Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to return to the helm in Haryana by wrestling power from the BJP in the October 21 Assembly polls. Hooda, who had raised a banner of revolt by saying his party had lost its way, is now the de facto chief ministerial face of the Congress.

Voting for the 90-member Haryana Assembly scheduled for 21 October in a single-phase election, with 73 seats allocated to the General category, 17 seats allocated to Scheduled Caste (SC) and none allocated to Scheduled Tribe (ST).