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Congress All Out in Haryana as Even Party Bigwigs Bite Dust in Lok Sabha Elections

Image for representation. (AP)

Image for representation. (AP)

The Congress had fielded 'party stalwarts' like former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Union minister Kumari Selja and others on more than half of the 10 Lok Sabha seats to boost the party's fortunes.

Chandigarh: A former chief minister and a one-time Union minister were among the Congress candidates who bit the dust in Haryana, where the ruling BJP won all 10 Lok Sabha seats.

The Congress had fielded 'party stalwarts' like former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Union minister Kumari Selja and others on more than half of the 10 Lok Sabha seats to boost the party's fortunes.

But for the grand old party, it seems the nightmare of 1999 elections returned when Congress had faced a rout and the BJP, which was then in alliance with Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), had swept the polls.

Expectations were high from Hooda who had during early days of his political career defeated former deputy prime minister Devi Lal from Rohtak constituency.

Hooda was hand picked by the Congress high command in 2005 and named as chief minister when the party won 67 out of 90 assembly seats that year in Haryana.

He contested the Lok Sabha polls this time after a gap of 14 years.

Hooda represented Rohtak in the 2005 polls, but this time he entered the fray from Sonipat as Rohtak was represented by his son Deepender.

The 71-year-old veteran Congressman, however, failed to unseat sitting BJP MP Ramesh Chander Kaushik, losing by a margin of over 1.64 lakh votes.

Hooda's defeat in the wake of state assembly polls due in four months has come as a big blow to the party.

Sonipat, like Rohtak, was seen as Hooda's stronghold where the party has five of the nine MLAs. Losing Sonipat as well as Rohtak came as a double whammy for the Congress and the Hoodas.

At present, Hooda is the sitting MLA from Garhi Sampla-Kiloi in Rohtak district.

When asked what factor worked in his favour despite being up against a veteran leader, Kaushik replied, "People saw the work done by the Narendra Modi and Manohar Lal Khattar governments.

"They appreciated the transparency we have brought in all spheres of administration, while jobs were given on merit. Sonipat gained so much under the BJP regime. All these factors besides a strong leadership provided by the prime minister worked in our favour," he said.

Among other stalwarts of the Congress who faced defeat include Kumari Selja (Ambala), state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar (Sirsa), Avtar Singh Bhadana (Faridabad) and Ajay Singh Yadav (Gurgaon).

Congress' three-time MP from Rohtak and Hooda's son Deepender also lost from Rohtak to BJP's Arvind Sharma.

The party had also faced rout in 1977, but it came back strongly in 1984, sweeping all the ten seats.

However, in 1989, Congress' fortunes again fluctuated and it won only four seats, with former chief ministers Bhajan Lal (Faridabad) and Bansi Lal (Bhiwani) among the winning candidates for the party.

In 1991, Congress won nine seats, but again in subsequent elections in 1996, its tally dropped to two, though Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Rohtak) and Kumari Selja (Sirsa) were the only two who could win.

In 1998 too, the party could win only three seats and none in 1999. It won nine seats in 2004 when the UPA came to power at the Centre.

In 2004, BJP's Kishan Singh Sangwan was the only non-Congress candidate to win (from Sonipat).

The Congress repeated its 2004 performance in 2009 by winning nine seats, but in 2014 again, it performed poorly. Deepender Hooda was the only party candidate to win then.