Bhupinder Singh Hooda while speaking to ANI
Bhupinder Singh Hooda while speaking to ANI

Hooda's rally throws fresh challenge for Congress in poll-bound Haryana

ANI | Updated: Aug 19, 2019 20:31 IST

New Delhi [India], Aug 19 (ANI): The declaration by former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of being the chief ministerial candidate in Haryana has thrown a fresh challenge before the Congress leadership as it grapples with entrenched factionalism in the state unit ahead of the assembly polls.
Hooda on Sunday put up a show of strength by organising a rally on his home turf of Rohtak to assert his leadership claim. He also signalled that if he was not given the desired role, he could chart an independent course.
The two-time Chief Minister made a slew of populist promises to gain traction among people, supported BJP-led government's decision to repeal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and took a dig at the Congress saying "my party has lost its way; it is not the same Congress it used to be."
He has formed a 25-member panel to decide his future course of action.
It remains to be seen how the Congress leadership views his remarks and takes a decision on election-related appointments in Haryana, which will go to the polls in about two months.
A senior AICC functionary told ANI that Hooda has gone against the party line. "What he said is totally against the party line," said the leader who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The rally, for which a preparatory meeting was held in the first week of this month, came days after Sonia Gandhi took over as interim chief of Congress and has made her task difficult in balancing various factors and caste equations in Haryana.
The party has already seen party legislators leaving it in states such as Goa and Maharashtra. The Congress-JD(S) coalition government also lost trust vote after the resignation of MLAs from the two parties.
Apart from being declared chief ministerial candidate, Hooda is apparently keen to have a major say in the distribution of tickets.
A Haryana Congress leader said that Hooda's rally and his announcements were "pressure tactics" and the leadership may try to find a way where he is accommodated without the high command being seen to have given in to his demands.
He said the leadership will be wary in accepting all the key demands as it can encourage leaders in other states to adopt similar tactics, but at the same time, not like to lose a leader with a mass base.
The leader also said that if Hooda decides to chart an independent course, not all leaders who shared the stage with him on Sunday at Rohtak will go along.
"Each leader will decide for himself and herself," he said.
The leader also said that Hooda will also base his decision keeping in view the political interests of his son Deepinder Singh Hooda.
An AICC secretary said that Hooda leaving the party will hurt the Congress' prospects in the polls. "I am confident Madam (Sonia Gandhi) will find a way," he said.
Party leaders said that leadership is likely to take a decision on Haryana after August 22 when an event is being held in the capital in memory of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Hooda's show of strength has come in the wake of party leadership steadfastly refusing to accept his demand for change in the state party leadership.
There have been differences between Hooda who belongs to the prominent Jat community, and state unit chief Ashok Tanwar and the factionalism has also hurt the party's prospects in the elections.
Dr Tanwar belongs to the Dalit community, which also has a sizeable presence in the state. (ANI)