Opposition politicians conducted state-wide ‘yatras’ to keep up their attack on the Manohar Lal Khattar government over issues like law and order, farmers’ problems and power supply.
The long-pending water-sharing project, opposed by neighbouring Punjab, was in the works even when his grandfather was chief minister, heading a Lok Dal government in the 1980s.
For the Congress, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda led the ‘Jan Kranti Yatra’, spread over seven phases in different parts of the state, berating the BJP government over “unfulfilled promises”.
“The BJP made tall promises to the people, but failed to fulfil them. People will vote them out in the 2019 Lok Sabha and assembly elections,” he said at one meeting.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal leader has also made known that his party would field candidates in Haryana in that election.
At his rallies, Kejriwal targeted the Khattar government over the “pathetic” state of government schools and health centres, and pitched the AAP as an alternative.
Undeterred, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also held roadshows across the state, promising development, a corruption-free government and an assurance to fill up what he calls the “potholes dug by previous Congress government”.
But the biggest political spectacle in the state this year was the feud in the INLD — which finally split between Ajay Chautala and Abhay Chautala, the two sons of party president Om Prakash Chautala.
The feud saw Ajay Chautala and his sons Dushyant and Digvijay being expelled from the Haryana-based party by the senior Chautala, who threw his weight behind the younger son Abhay Chautala.
The trigger was an INLD rally in Gohana in October when the supporters of the two young Chautalas hooted at their uncle Abhay Chautala.
Dushyant Chautala, the MP from Hisar, has now launched the Jannayak Janata Party, and the 30-year-old’s supporters are even projecting him as the next chief minister.
The split came at a time when the parent INLD had entered into an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party and was hoping to return to power in Haryana after a 14-year hiatus. Some say the development has hit its chances.
BJP’s rebel MP from Kurukshetra, Raj Kumar Saini, also floated a new outfit, the ‘Loktantra Suraksha Party’. Known for his anti-Jat stand, the MP has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of failing to address the issues concerning the Other Backward Classes.
Several rape cases shook the state in 1918.
The year began on a tragic note with an 11-year-old being raped and killed in Panipat. In May, a 17-year-old girl committed suicide after she was abducted and then raped by eight men in Mewat. In September, a 19-year-old woman from Rewari district was abducted and raped.
Among those arrested in the Riwari case was an Army man.
In April, the Haryana Assembly had passed a Bill allowing death penalty for the rape of anyone under 12, signalling that the state planned to act tough on crime against women. But the rapes continued.
The state witnessed an 18-day strike by Haryana Roadways employees, the longest ever by them, in October-November. In May, sanitation workers went on a 16-day strike.
For former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the year brought in its share of legal trouble.
The CBI filed a chargesheet against him and others over alleged irregularities in the re-allotment of an institutional plot in Panchkula to Associated Journals Limited, the publishers of Congress mouthpiece National Herald.
He also figured in an FIR over a land deal in Gurgaon, which allegedly benefitted a company associated with Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Hooda has dismissed the cases as “political vendetta” by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
As in past years, Haryana faced flak over stubble-burning that contributes to pollution in the region, particularly the national capital. But the state claimed the steps taken by it have helped contain the problem.
Haryana remembered Sir Chhotu Ram with Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiling a 64-foot statue of the peasant leader at his native village in Rohtak district, a much-awaited Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway was thrown open to public, Bahadurgarh got the metro train, student polls were held after gap of two decades and mayors were picked through direct elections for the first time.
But what brought cheer to many Haryanvis was the performance of its athletes at international events, keeping intact the reputation of the state as a powerhouse of sports in the country. Eighteen Haryana athletes won medals at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta.
Manu Bhaker, a class 11 girl from Jhajjar, became a new shooting star. In Mexico, she became the youngest Indian to win an ISSF World Cup gold.