All India Congress Committee (AICC) communications wing in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala, the sitting MLA from Kaithal, speaks to The Indian Express about the reasons, which led to his candidature for the bypoll.
What prompted Congress president Rahul Gandhi to field a sitting MLA and party’s national spokesperson in a bypoll?
In my opinion, Jind is a historical land and has always decided the political landscape of the governments of the day, as also the next governments. The entire state party leadership, together, put up to Congress president that in order to throw the Khattar government, let Jind election be a litmus test and party must field its best candidate. That clinched the matter, in my opinion, in the mind of Congress president.
For me personally, it was an occasion to give back to the heartland, where I was born and which has been my ‘karambhumi’ for years together, by ensuring development that has been deprived to Jind. For me it’s a yajna of life to ensure that Jind becomes the frontline district of Haryana.
BJP leaders say that you have been trapped by your opponents within the party to contest this tough poll battle.
I think, they (BJP leaders) are panicking at the prospects of being relegated to the third or fourth spot. And that’s why they are making such statements.
Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma recently told former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda that”aapka kanta nikal gaya (your splinter has been removed)”. What does it mean?
Ram Bilas ji is a very seasoned person but a bitter man. Bitter for being superseded unceremoniously and dumped by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in favour of his novice classmate Shri Manohar Lal Khattar. I think this bitterness is getting reflected. As far as Mr Hooda and myself are concerned, we have always worked together for strengthening the Congress and shall continue to do so. I hold Mr Hooda in great esteem and he has always given me immense affection and respect.
Your opponents believe that all factions of Congress won’t support you in the election because “they consider you as their competitor for the chair of chief minister, in case the Congress returns to power in 2019.
I call it “Mungeri Lal ke haseen sapne” (wishful dreams) of my opponents. Entire Congress has come together, for we believe that the economy, its agrarian policies, job generation and generally, the very future prospects of the state are in serious turmoil and under a cloud on account of Khattar government’s rule. We also believe that Congress is the only solution to putting the state back on rail of development. We have, therefore, decided to shed every personal or political difference to work in unison for the victory of the Congress party. Jind election will be a catalyst to place Congress back in the saddle with a higher majority than in 2005. And that’s our common goal for which we are working.
Why does the Congress feel that this election is so important?
Its 60 to 90 days to parliamentary polls and will set the mood of the state. The answer is really obvious. And also we believe with the kind of tensions that exist in Khattar government, they perhaps will not last for more than 30 days after this election. Khattar government will crumble under its own weight.
You have fought four elections against Chautala family already. Do you find any difference this time?
Important issue is that the Chautala clan has been responsible for putting brakes on Jind’s development as also attempting to sabotage in a conspiratorial fashion the growing political leadership of the district. People have not forgotten the Kandela incident where nearly a dozen people died (during police firing in Chautala rule).
Abhay Singh Chautala terms you an ‘outsider’ for Jind. How do you respond?
I think, he has no comprehension of the history or the ethos and of the emotional connect of people of Jind. He is insulting our unquestionable traditions by making such obnoxious and unwarranted statements.
There are claims that youngsters are supporting Digvijay Singh Chautala. How do you respond?
When you go out, you will find there is great distrust among the youth in entire Haryna including Jind. And they now are looking at a new beginning in the Congress party. I am deeply indebted for me becoming centrepoint of the same. Hooliganism and slogan shouting is essentially what Digvijay represents.
Chaudhary Birender Singh says that Congress stands finished in Jind.
I think, Chaudhary Birender Singh ji is being forced to make such statements by the BJP leadership. He himself knows that BJP could not find a candidate in Jind. Think about the bankruptcy of BJP’s leadership and Khattar sahab who could not find a single BJP worker to fight the Jind election. They had to import one from Indian National Lok Dal.