Sonipat: Haryana's former two-time chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda dubs the Modi government's 10 per cent reservation for poor in the general category "his wine in their bottle" and says though the BJP can take credit for his work, it will not get the votes.
Accusing the BJP of indulging in "political vendetta", the senior Congress leader, who is contesting from Sonipat Lok Sabha seat, alleged that the CBI raids at his Rohtak residence in January were aimed at maligning him ahead of the May 12 election.
"I brought it (reservation for poor in general category) in Haryana first. I ensured that irrespective of caste and economy, everybody gets reservation. They (BJP) opposed it at that time. Now they have repackaged it at the national level and are trying to reap its benefits. It is my wine in their bottle," Hooda told PTI in an interview.
The Hooda-led Haryana government had in 2013 approved a proposal to grant 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker sections in the general category on the recommendation of the Haryana Backward Classes Commission.
"They (BJP) think they can take credit for my work; they certainly can, but they cannot get votes on its basis. People are shrewd enough to decide, they can make a mistake once but not again and again," the Congress leader said.
The Congress is banking on Hooda and his son Deepender Singh Hooda, who is seeking re-election from Rohtak for a fourth time, to revive the party's fortunes in Haryana.
Hoodas are one of the few clans that have dominated the political scenario in Haryana for decades.
Hooda first contested parliamentary elections in 1952 from the Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency and won with a huge margin. He retained the seat in the next election and was elected to the Rajya Sabha.
Speaking about his initial reluctance to contest the polls this year, Hooda said, "I was apprehensive, but if the party leadership wants me to contest, I will not say no to it. My wife is from Sonipat. It has also been my father's constituency when he was in the Lok Sabha. It is certainly my stronghold and I will win."
"They (BJP) have tried hard to malign my image ahead of the elections, using the CBI to conduct raids at my place. Nothing wrong has been done, nothing wrong has been found. This is all political vendetta which they think can influence the elections, but it will not," the 72-year-old prominent Jat leader said.
The CBI conducted the raid in connection with alleged irregularities in land allotment during Hooda's tenure as Haryana chief minister in 2009.
The Congress leader said Haryana "burnt" on three occasions under the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government and the people will not forget that.
"They did it at the time of (arrest) of Rampal (a self-styled godman), they did it during the reservation agitation and (during) the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda violence. They burnt Haryana. Do they think people will forget that? They made tall promises and could not fulfil any of them," he said.
Hooda is pitted against BJP's sitting MP Ramesh Chander Kaushik and Digvijay Chautala, also a Jat, of the Jannayak Janata Dal-Aam Aadmi Party combine.