The factionalism and infighting in the Haryana Congress seems to have deepened further despite former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda urging the party workers to unite to take on the BJP in the Assembly polls, which are due in October this year. On Monday, party legislator from Rai Vidhan Sabha seat, Jai Tirath Dahiya lodged a formal complaint against Ashok Tanwar claiming that he was abused by the state party chief at the coordination panel meeting in New Delhi on June 4.
The meeting was chaired by Congress general secretary-in-charge of Haryana, Ghulam Nabi Azad ended in a pandemonium. The rift in the state unit of Congress had surfaced at the meeting where, Tanwar, facing ire over party’s Lok Sabha poll debacle in state, said, “Mere ko agar khatam karna hai, toh mujhe goli maar do (If you want to finish me, then just shoot me),” a participant had recalled.
At that meeting, the MLAs loyal to Hooda, had pressed for a leadership change in Haryana. Dahiya too belongs to the Hooda camp. It is not the first time that he has had a run in with Tanwar. In August 2017, Tanwar had decided to complain to the party high command against Dahiya who had been seeking his ouster. Dahiya had threatened that he along with some other MLAs could “go to any extent” if their demand for removal of Tanwar from his post was not met soon.
Party sources disclosed that the voices seeking Tanwar’s removal are getting louder with Hooda camp holding meetings and formulating strategies for the Vidhan Sabha polls without taking Tanwar into confidence.
Several Haryana Congress leaders told The Indian Express that since Tanwar has failed to keep the party united, it was upto the high command to take a decision, soon.
“It is in the interest of the party’s prospects in the upcoming Vidhan Sabha polls. Party high command is very much aware of the fact that who can take on BJP in the state. If a decision is not taken soon, it will impact us in the October polls too,” a senior party leader told The Indian Express.
In a meeting called by Hooda at his residence in New Delhi Sunday, a number of sitting and former MLAs were present. Although, Hooda told The Indian Express that “the meeting was an informal one in which only a few old leaders of the party gathered and discussed a few points”, it was largely seen as the former CM’s attempt at a “show of strength”.
Meanwhile, In what is being seen as a tit-for-tat reply, Tanwar too has called a meeting of party’s state leadership on June 12. However, it is likely that Hooda, his son Deepender Hooda and other loyalists including Geeta Bhukkal, Kuldip Sharma, Phool Chand Mullana, Karan Dalal among others may give Tanwar’s meeting a miss.
Hooda, on the other hand, is emerging as a self-styled party chief by calling meetings of MLAs and former MLAs and MPs and formulating strategies for the Assembly polls.
Since over last two years, there was hardly any occasion where Hooda and Tanwar were seen on a common platform. Both contested Lok Sabha polls this time, Hooda from Sonipat and Tanwar from Sirsa. However, they didn’t campaign for each other. Despite being a party president, Tanwar also didn’t campaign for Deepender in Rohtak or for Hooda’s close aide Kuldip Sharma in Karnal.
While the party high command has maintained a silence on the infighting, Azad in the Delhi meeting of the coordination panel had specifically hinted that “certain organizational changes are set to happen soon, right from top till bottom”.
In the Sunday meeting called by Hooda, a few resolutions were passed including the one in which Rahul Gandhi was urged to continue guiding the Congress in this “difficult time” and not to think of going ahead with his resignation as the party chief. It also resolved that all Congressmen will fight unitedly to oust the BJP government in the state. The meet also impressed upon the party high command to take necessary steps needed to further strengthen the party in the state.