Chandigarh, Aug 21 (IANS): In the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP named Narendra Modi its prime ministerial candidate and asked the Congress to name its candidate for the PM's post. The Congress did not oblige. Now, exactly the reverse is happening in Haryana.
With elections to Haryana's 90-member assembly to be held within two months, it is the ruling Congress which has dared the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to name its candidate for the chief minister's post.
The Congress, which has unofficially anointed incumbent Bhupinder Singh Hooda to be the next chief minister if the Congress returns to power, is facing a tough challenge this time.
"I challenge the BJP to name its candidate for the chief minister's post against Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The BJP has no base in the state and it has no leadership. They are only trying to mislead people," young Congress MP from Rohtak Deepinder Singh Hooda, son of the chief minister, tells people at election rallies.
The BJP, unlike in Modi's case for prime ministership, is not projecting any leader as the chief minister candidate. The problem with the party is that none of its top state leaders have a mass base anywhere in Haryana. In the last few days, leaders from other parties, especially the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal, have joined its ranks.
"The handful of leaders the BJP has are all aspiring to be chief minister. None of them are known to majority of the people in Haryana," a senior Congress legislator pointed out.
The biggest name the BJP got in recent days was Birender Singh, a former general secretary of the Congress and member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
Birender Singh, a towering Jat leader, joined the BJP in the presence of BJP president Amit Shah. The BJP does not have any big Jat leader in its ranks.
"The BJP has become the Bhagoda Jodo Party (party getting together runaway leaders from other parties). The Congress is linking itself to the people whereas the BJP is only trying to accommodate runaway leaders on the eve of elections," Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar said.
In the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress won just one seat out of the 10 parliamentary seats. The BJP bagged seven seats while two went to the INLD.
The BJP, for the first time in Haryana's politics, is eyeing a victory in the assembly polls on its own. It is even on the verge of dumping its ally the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC).
Hooda became chief minister in March 2005 in the first term. He managed to come back to power for a second term in October 2009 after roping in independent legislators and defectors from the HJC in the Congress fold.
This time, given the trends of the Lok Sabha results, the Congress is expected to fare poorly. But Hooda is confident of winning a third term in office.