Ever since the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched the residence of 20 people including former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and top bureaucrats who worked with him, the Congress leaders are not comfortable. They term the CBI’s search operation as an act of vendetta. One fails to understand why the BJP regime will have any kind of vendetta against Hooda whose 10-year-old regime in Haryana was not inimical to the interests of the saffron party. In fact, the BJP was not even in reckoning during those 10 years. It was the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which was the principal opposition party in the state, a status the regional outfit enjoys even today. Similarly, Haryana is not politically so important that the Central government, as is being alleged by the Congress, will abuse CBI to deflect the people’s attention from the so-called failure of either the state or Central government.
This theory of the Congress leaders seems to be in conflict with the ‘possibilities’ emerging out of the current ‘volatile political’ slugfest. Last week, Hooda and AICC spokesperson held a presser in Chandigarh to put forth their views in this regard. In Haryana, there are CAG reports which talk about alleged irregularities in giving or selling lands to different stakeholders. Justice S N Dhingra panel has submitted a report on the allotment of lands in Gurgaon. Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also registered a case against Hooda in an alleged act of money laundering. Hooda and Surjewala were equivocal in their claim that the Centre and the state were misusing government agencies and unleashing ‘witch-hunt and political vendetta.’ Given Hooda’s profile and style of working, one can vouch for the fact that he would never commit any wrong willingly or knowingly or he can be pressured to do so.
At the same time, one cannot question the claims from other sections of the society that the state government during Hooda’s time went extra mile to make mistakes. There is total mismatch between perceptive conclusions and the claims being made by the government and others. Denying any wrongdoing in acquisition of land in Manesar in Gurgaon, Hooda said: “No case is based on facts. It is purely politics of vendetta, vengeance and an attempt to defame us.” Surjewala said that his party would not be cowed down by such cases. “Our leaders, including Hooda, have not committed any crime. They are clean. We are ready to face any inquiry provided the government does not act out of vindictiveness. We are not deterred by CBI search or CBI case, we are ready to face that also and we will face that in court of law and prove facts, but the issue they should rise above political vindictiveness,” he said. Former Speaker Kuldeep Sharma, who was also present in the press conference, said: “Modus operandi of Haryana government is to register the case and then refer the case to the CBI.”
Where in lies the problem? BJP president on Sunday, while targeting Hooda, said that he had robbed the poor to serve ‘Delhi ke damaad,’ an apparent reference to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. Shah also claimed that the Congress leader was rattled as the BJP government had exposed how farmers were exploited under his rule and their money gifted to ‘Delhi durbar.’ Similarly, Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters in New Delhi recently that in Gujarat, thousands of hectares of land were ‘sold for a song’ and if land deals are probed, all the BJP chief ministers would be in the dock. The message is loud and clear. Land deals are going to be a major poll plank in the coming Assembly polls which are scheduled to be held next year not only in Punjab, but also in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. BJP needs to win the poll in Uttar Pradesh to be on a firmer footing in run up to the Lok Sabha poll in 2019. In Gujarat, the party is on a sticky wicket, while the Congress is said to be getting stronger. Since land deals in Haryana have allegedly served ‘Delhi ke damaad’ as claimed by BJP chief, the Congress leaders need to be a worried lot.