Polls at doorstep, Centre lends Hooda a helping hand

While Haryana Assembly elections may be over one-and-a-half years away, the tone for the mega battle has already been set by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda Government. And the Congress-led Centre is just too willing to lend a helping hand.

In the past few months, many senior Union ministers and even Congress president Sonia Gandhi have travelled to Haryana to either inaugurate projects or lay the foundation stones of upcoming ones. “Haryana, the number one state” is likely to be Hooda’s slogan for 2014 Assembly elections.

As Hooda keeps criss-crossing the state, he refers to favourable statistics to support his claims of developmental work. “As compared to `131.21 crore spent by the former INLD Government for development of the area, the present Congress Government has spent more than `765.97 crore,” he never forgets to mention at rallies.

He travelled to Uchana Kalan in Jind, the Assembly constituency of Hooda’s biggest political adversary Om Prakash Chautala, to inaugurate a girls’ hostel, and laid the foundation stone of a nursing college. Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna were also present.

Days earlier, Haryana had got a big boost from the Railway Budget. A rail coach manufacturing factory at Sonepat was announced. Over and above, new trains and lines will link the Sohna-Nuh-Firozepur Jhirka and Hisar-Sirsa regions. Within days of making the announcement, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal was in Rohtak –  Chief Minister’s son Deepender Hooda’s constituency –  to flag off the new electric train to Delhi. On January 8, UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani travelled to Manesar to lay the foundation stone of a new data centre. Haryana was also chosen to launch the UPA’s much-hyped Direct Benefits Transfer scheme last month.

The electoral fortunes could be linked to the Lok Sabha elections which will be held a few months ahead of the Assembly polls.

Hooda, therefore, is trying his best to undo some of the criticism hurled at him, like the recent controversy surrounding dubious land deals of Sonia’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. But Hooda’s political fortune seems to be on the upswing on the whole, despite the rise of foes like the BJP-Haryana Janhit Congress.

The major projects inaugurated or announced in the state include the Kalpana Chawla Medical College in Karnal, Government Polytechnic in Faridabad, Faridabad-Gurgaon monorail,  Rewari-Rohtak rail track, Mundka-Bahadurgarh metro link, Agro Mall in Rohtak and Haryana Institute of Education and Research in Jind. Also, the state has budgeted about `891 crore for the Haryana Urban Development Authority to construct roads, drainage and other facilities.