The construction boom in Haryana, especially in Rohtak, has played out differently for different people. For those in the fast lane, it means development and for those who gave up their fertile farmlands for the purpose, there are promises yet to be fulfilled. Then there is the toll-tax issue and the demand for jobs for those who have given up farming.
In such a scenario, sitting Congress MP Deepender Hooda, who is bedridden from a spine injury, is forced to run his campaign from his home in Delhi. Lending a helping hand is his mother Asha Hooda who, accompanied by the local MLA, is running a door-to-door campaign in the city. The challenge for his workers is to make him win by as large a margin--second highest in the country--as in 2009.
Targeting the youth, the Hooda team has projected the 36-year-old soft-spoken MP as youth leader with handbills that say “Youth for Deepender” and “Main Deepender”.
His biggest challenge on this count, however, is “the Modi factor” apart from Naveen Jaihind, the Aam Aadmi Party candidate who was credited with organising a successful debut rally in Rohtak last month. Mr. Jaihind, a Brahmin, has consciously moved away from caste politics and is urging people to come out of the “job-seeking mindset” and go for a change in this election.
Speaking to The Hindu in Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Sanghi village, he said: “I am just raising their consciousness and asking them to think if they want to stay with the system that has brought corruption, inflation and joblessness or to change the system.’’
The rousing reception he received in Sanghi gave an illusion of silent support for the AAP, but speaking to The Hindu in Rohtak, Mrs. Asha Hooda dismissed it as “crowd of outsiders”.
Moreover, BJP candidate Om Prakash Dhankar is considered close to Narendra Modi. Besides the party has spread the rumour that he would gain a berth in the Cabinet if Mr. Modi were to become Prime Minister which would keep the seat’s “chaudhar” (political importance) intact.
INLD candidate Shamsher Singh Kharkara also has a traditional support base amongst the Jat community. In the four-cornered contest between the Congress, BJP, AAP and Indian National Lok Dal, the voters who support Mr. Hooda are vocal, while those who back the BJP and AAP are silent.