The Congress on Saturday appointed Captain Ajay Yadav, a detractor of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, as head of the party’s campaign committee for the upcoming Assembly elections, sending a strong signal that the deeply divided party will fight the polls under a collective leadership.
By handing over the reins of the campaign to Yadav, a non-Jat from south Haryana, the party has also sought to placate the anti-Hooda camp as also balance the social as well as regional balance.
The party also appointed former MP Naveen Jindal as chairman of the publicity committee. The head of the party’s campaign committee in the 2009 Assembly election was Venod Sharma, who was then a close associate of Hooda. Yadav’s appointment this time is being seen as a balancing act by the Congress high command, which has consistently turned down demands for Hooda’s removal from his detractors.
The Congress does not usually name a chief ministerial candidate ahead of an election, but Yadav’s appointment could make him a strong contender for the CM post if the party were to return to power.
Last month, Yadav had raised a banner of revolt and resigned from the Hooda cabinet. But days later he withdrew his resignation and re-joined the ministry after the high command assured him that his grievances would be addressed and he would be given a prominent role in the organisation.
The Congress had done a similar balancing act in Maharashtra — another poll-bound state — earlier this month by appointing CM Prithviraj Chavan’s detractors Narayan Rane and Ashok Chavan as heads of key poll panels.
The 43-member campaign panel has minister Kiran Chaudhary as co-chairperson and the CM, state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar, senior party leader Kumari Selja, former state president Phool Chand Mullana, Hooda’s son and Rohtak MP Deepender Singh Hooda, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Naveen Jindal and Shruti Chaudhary as members.
Chaudhary too is not on the best of terms with Hooda. The Congress in Haryana has been beset with factional feud, leading to the exit of several top leaders in the past six months.