Haryana results 2019 | Hooda gets a ‘free hand’

Former Chief Minister Hooda has been in touch with all the leaders and is waiting for events to unfold, Congress sources say.

Updated - October 25, 2019 01:36 am IST

Published - October 24, 2019 10:45 pm IST - New Delhi

Man of the moment: Bhupinder Singh Hooda celebrates after his victory in the election, in Rohtak.

Man of the moment: Bhupinder Singh Hooda celebrates after his victory in the election, in Rohtak.

Hours after Haryana threw up a hung verdict on Thursday, a section of the Congress was ready to replicate the “Karnataka model” by offering the Chief Minister’s post to Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Chautala whose party won 10 of the 90 Assembly seats.

But former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who was a given a “free hand” at government formation efforts by interim party chief Sonia Gandhi, refused to speak about it publicly.

Earlier in the day, he had made an open appeal to all those who had campaigned against the BJP in the State to “come together and a form a stable coalition to respect the mandate”.

But with the BJP just five MLAs short of the majority mark of 46, Mr. Chautala has not responded to Mr. Hooda’s public appeal.

Congress sources, however, told The Hindu that Mr. Hooda “is in touch with all the leaders and is waiting for events to unfold”.

In fact, the Congress is looking at the positives from the first set of elections fought under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership after the 2019 Lok Sabha rout.

“The present results are a testimony to the maturity of voters in Maharashtra and Haryana that they sought to bring back some balance to the political discourse,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said at a press conference.

For the Congress, the results also seemed to have settled the recurrent Congress debate of “old guard versus new” as powerful State leaders in both Maharashtra and Haryana fared reasonably well.

Despite large-scale defections from the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra in anticipation of a BJP landslide, the Opposition alliance managed to win over 100 seats. The Opposition campaign was largely driven by NCP chief Sharad Pawar, aided by State Congress leaders including Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat.

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who had gone on a four day spiritual trip in the middle of campaigning, addressed only five or six rallies in Maharashtra.

In Haryana, Mr. Hooda, who was on the verge of quitting the Congress after being sidelined by Mr. Gandhi who had appointed Dalit leader Ashok Tanwar as Haryana Congress chief, not only made a dramatic comeback but brought the party back into the reckoning.

“Maybe we were a bit late in making organisational changes but despite that we made huge gains,” Mr. Sharma said, when asked if the Congress delayed giving party responsibility to Mr. Hooda.

“Quiet patriotism can defeat muscular nationalism,” former finance minister P. Chidambaram, who is lodged in Tihar jail, told reporters during a court appearance.

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