The name of Bhupinder Singh Hooda figuring in the list of 23 leaders calling for a “full time and effective leadership” change in the Congress has not come as a surprise to those who know the former two-time chief minister of Haryana.
It was around the same time in August 2019, in run up to Haryana’s Vidhan Sabha polls, when Hooda went public, for the first time in his over four-decades long association with Congress, voicing disagreement with his own party.
Going into a rebellion mode while addressing a “Parivartan (change) rally” in his citadel Rohtak, Hooda had declared himself the chief ministerial candidate “with or without the Congress”. He even announced his own poll manifesto, in stark contradiction with Congress’s tradition of preparing an election manifesto with the help of a committee comprising senior leadership before releasing it.
Hooda, at that time, began his address by saying: “Aaj main apni saari paabandiyon se mukt ho kar yahan aaya hoon (I am here after having freed myself from all the restrictions)”. Hooda had added, that his party had “lost its way (bhatak gayeehai)”, and was no longer “the old Congress”.
“Meri char peedhiyaan Congress mein rahi… Lekin, sarkar koi theek kaam karti hai, chaahe kendra ki ho, Haryana ki ho, main usko theek kehta hoon. Ab (Article) 370 inhone hatai, bahut saare mere saathiyon ne bhi uska virodh kiya. Aur meri party bhi kuch bhatak gayee, woh pehle waali Congress nahi rahi. Lekin, jahan tak sawaal hai deshbhakti ka aur swabhiman ka, main kisise samjhauta nahi karunga. Aur isi vaaste maine (Article) 370 ka samarthan kiya (Four generations of my family has remained with the Congress . If the government does the right thing, whether it is at the Centre or in Haryana, I stand by it. Many opposed the decision on Article 370. My party too has lost its way, it is no longer the old Congress. But I will not compromise on patriotism and self-respect. That is why I have supported the decision on Article 370),” Hooda had said while citing reasons why he supported abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir.
Hooda, however, refused to comment, Sunday, on being one of the 23 senior leaders who signed the letter sent about a fortnight ago to AICC interim president Sonia Gandhi. “These are party’s internal matters and I do not comment on party’s internal affairs in the media,” he said.
Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja, however, said that party leaders must not forget that whatever they are today, it is because of the party.
Talking to The Indian Express, Selja said, “It is an internal party matter and whatever happens… let us see in the working committee. I don’t think anyone should go public. If there is anything that anyone has an issue…I think nothing happens in a day. Everybody has been part of it”.
Without taking any names, Selja added, “This is the time when everyone has to end up together and fight against what is being unleashed in the country by the BJP government rather than behaving in such a manner. I always say that whatever we are, its because of the party. Let us not forget that. No individual is above the party”.
Talking about the contents of the letter sent to CWC, Selja said, “I do not know what they have written. This is a newspaper report. I can’t come to a conclusion or form an opinion solely on the basis of a newspaper report”.
About the circumstances in which Sonia Gandhi took over as interim president, Selja said, “Once you reposed faith in a certain setup and requested her to become the president. She was not at all enthusiastic, but we all persuaded her that under the circumstances it may be a good way of battling the situation at that point. That’s how she very reluctantly accepted. Once we have reposed faith in her, we should leave it to her to find solution rather than pressuring her with these kind of things”.
It was in October, 2019 that Haryana Congress’ former chief Ashok Tanwar had quit the party a month after he was replaced by Selja. “Congress is going through existential crisis, not because of its political opponents but because of serious internal contradiction,” Tanwar had written on Twitter announcing his resignation from the primary membership of the Congress party. He had even protested outside 10 Janpath, New Delhi alleging corruption and irregularities in ticket distribution when he was denied party ticket to contest 2019 assembly polls in Haryana.
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