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Two-time CM Hooda files nomination, faces tough contest
Chandigarh, Oct 4 - Two-time Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Friday filed his nomination papers from the Garhi Sampla-Kiloi constituency in Rohtak for the October 21 Assembly polls.
Political observers say it is a tough road for the Congress leader to return to the helm by wrestling power from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Going to file his papers after a 'havan' at his residence, Hooda was accompanied by his son and former three-time MP Deepender Singh Hooda, while ten of thousands of his followers gathered on the occasion.
Hooda told the media that the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in the state has cheated the people.
The BJP had made 154 poll promises in the last assembly elections and not even a single one was fulfilled, he claimed.
"Our government will work for the betterment of the farmers, employees, Dalits and the businessmen. The law and order in the state has deteriorated and the employees are hitting the roads in protests and are facing 'lathicharge' by the police," he said.
Seeking votes on the basis of his two consecutive stints as the Chief Minister, he said if his Congress came to power, the government would give employees the pay scale on the pattern of Punjab.
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.
Just days ahead of the poll announcement, the Congress high command handed over to him the reins of the party's affairs in the state by appointing him as the Congress Legislature Party leader.
To challenge Hooda in his stronghold, the BJP has fielded defected Indian National Lok Dal leader Satish Nandal against him. Nandal had joined the party on June 29.
Nandal had twice contested the Assembly elections against Hooda from Garhi Sampla-Kiloi on an INLD ticket in 2009 and 2014. He finished as runner-up on both occasions.
The BJP's vote share in the Garhi Sampla-Kiloi segment in Rohtak district in the last Lok Sabha polls rose substantially compared to the previous elections.
Hooda, who managed to prevailed upon his rivals within the party to get nomination for at least 60 candidates, is facing cases filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for granting approval to a land deal of Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law Robert Vadra in the fag-end of his second stint as the Chief Minister.
It is literally a do-or-die battle for political survival for Hooda, who faced humiliating defeat in the last Lok Sabha elections along with his son.
"This time, Bhupinder Singh Hooda is fighting on two fronts -- one is to re-establish himself and the second is to ensure the party's return as he forced the high command to announce him as the Congress Legislature Party leader just ahead of the polls despite all odds and then get the maximum say in ticket allocation," a political observer told IANS.
The result of the 90-member Haryana Assembly will be declared on October 24.
In the 2014 Assembly polls, the BJP improved its 2009 tally of four to 47, followed by the INLD with 19 legislators and the Congress with 15 seats.
Two seats went to the Haryana Janhit Congress, and one each to the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Five Independent candidates were also elected.
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