Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his Maharashtra counterpart, Prithviraj Chavan, held talks with Congress central leadership in Delhi, amid indications that decision on replacement of chief ministers will be made soon starting with Assam.
Hooda had a 30-minute meeting with Gandhi this morning while Chavan met Gandhi’s political secretary, Ahmed Patel, on Friday night for nearly an hour. Senior minister from Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, was also likely to meet top Congress leadership, party leaders said.
They said Assam could be the first state where a change of guard can take place followed by Maharashtra. However, a decision in the case of Haryana could be difficult as the state is going to elections later this year and a section feels that time is short, they said, pointing to the ‘TINA’ (there is no alternative) factor.
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Sources close to Hooda termed it as a “routine meeting”. They said there was no talk about change of leadership in the
state. AICC general secretary incharge for Haryana Shakeel Ahmed said, “Change of leadership either at PCC level or CLP level is not under consideration”. The decision on replacement of the Chief Ministers is expected soon as part of massive organisational rejig in states after the drubbing in Lok Sabha polls.
While Assembly elections in Assam are scheduled in 2016, the term of Haryana Assembly expires in October and that of
Maharashtra in December this year. Congress leadership has been under pressure to replace Assam Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, for long time as rebellion had mounted in the state unit, more so after the poor show of Congress in the Lok Sabha polls.
Congress had managed to win only three of the 14 seats in Assam which was much below the party’s expectations. Since there are no early elections in Assam, the leadership views that if a change has to take place, it should be done now so that there is enough time for the new leadership in the state to prepare and perform in the Assembly elections.
However, the central leadership of the Congress is keen that any change of guard in the state should be done in an amicable manner. Gogoi had been in touch with the central leadership in the last few days. The party is likely to send some senior leaders as observers in the state before a final decision is taken.
Party sources have said that in case of Maharashtra party veterans, A.K Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad could go as observers after the party decides to replace Chavan.
Congress could win only two and its ally, NCP, just four of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra this time. In Haryana, where Hooda is the Chief Minister, the party could win only one of the ten Lok Sabha seats. The Chief Minister’s son Deepinder Hooda was the sole Congress candidate to win a Lok Sabha seat from the state.
There were voices against the style of functioning of Hooda in the Haryana unit of the Congress with former Union Minister, Kumari Selja saying that the Chief Minister should have at least offered to resign following the party’s poor show in the Lok Sabha polls. The party also plans to replace PCC chiefs in ten states including Uttar Pradesh.