The Congress is considering fielding renowned actor and former chairperson of the Indian Film Censor Board Sharmila Tagore from Gurgaon.
The prime challenge for the Congress in Gurgaon will be sitting MP Rao Inderjit Singh, who recently left the Congress to join the BJP. Also in the fray is AAP’s primary spokesperson and ideologue Yogendra Yadav.
Senior Congress leaders confirmed that Tagore’s name is in contention for the ticket, though no one from the party has officially approached her yet.
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“Her name has been suggested for the Gurgaon seat during unofficial meetings. Nothing has been finalised and, currently, we are looking at all options,” P C Chacko, the in-charge of the Lok Sabha screening committee in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, said.
Other candidates being considered for the seat include Chiranjeev Rao, who is the son of Haryana power minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav and Haryana Transport Minister Aftab Ahmed.
Rao Inderjit Singh had publicly accused Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of regional bias in terms of development and jobs. A senior Congress leader admitted that Inderjit Singh’s departure, though not surprising, has created a major predicament for the party.
Inderjit Singh, who is an Ahir leader, has a strong following in Bhiwani, Mahendergarh and Gurgaon.
Senior Congress leaders said Tagore, the wife of late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, the Nawab of Pataudi, which falls in the Gurgaon constituency, will provide an alternative for the party in the state which can’t be associated with the anti-Hooda sentiment in the area.
“She is hugely popular here and will be able to neutralise the caste factor. Meo Muslims constitute a large chunk of the Gurgaon population,” a Congress leader said.
Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi had contested from Gurgaon in 1971 but had lost to the prominent Meo Muslim leader Tayyab Hussain of the Congress. He received barely 5 per cent of the total votes.
Yogendra Yadav, the face of AAP’s campaign in Haryana, hails from Gurgaon. AAP leaders said it has almost 2 lakh members in Haryana.
Those close to Inderjit Singh, however, said in case Tagore contests from Gurgaon, it might be a blessing for the BJP. “In Haryana, this year it’s going to be an election where religion will be a bigger factor than caste.
Meo Muslim vote will get divided, but the Hindu castes have been united under the BJP’s banner due to Modi and this will work for us,” G L Sharma, a close aide of Inderjit Singh, said.