All the main contenders for the post of Haryana Congress chief are lobbying hard for the top post. Senior leaders of the state units who are considered close to 10,Janpath,are espousing the candidature of their choice,and caste seems to have become an eligibility criteria for the post. Hectic piggybacking is on,as senior state Congress leaders Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda,Union Minister Kumari Selja,Capt Ajay Singh Yadav,Randeep Singh Surjewala and Phool Chand Mullana have met Congress president Sonia Gandhi,vice-president Rahul Gandhi and senior party leader Ahmed Patel in Delhi,in the past four-five days.
The party high command,sources said,was also not happy the way issues related to the Gandhi family were being thrown out of proportion in the state,especially the controversy revolving round the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. The state government would have managed it in a better way especially at the time of the audit. The officers at the helm of the affairs would have given adequate and satisfactory information regarding allotment of land,in order to avoid the embarrassment it had caused after the CAG report, said a senior officer. The outcome of the controversy affect the officers who had held key positions and failed to provide convincing response to CAG objections,sources said.
Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had met Sonia,Rahul and Patel during his stay in Delhi,and at one occasion organised a meeting with Speaker Kuldeep Sharma and Sonia Gandhi.
Hooda,according to sources,was of the opinion that the present chief,Phool Chand Mullana,should continue,and if at all he was to be replaced then he would support Sharma,in a bid to please the Brahmins in the state. However,he also has another candidate ready if the party wanted to appease minorities. Mullana is a dalit,but Hooda has thrown his weight behind his friend and Rajya Sabha member,Ram Prakash,an OBC for the post.
Hooda,who had effectively curbed his dissidence at the state level,still finds a formidable political threat from Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment,Selja,who seems to be the only leader from the state other than Hooda to retain the faith of the Gandhi family.
Selja met Sonia Gandhi,soon after Hooda met her,and sources added she minced no words to castigate the present government for ignoring her constituency,owing to political reasons. Sources added that she put forth the candidature of Ishwar Singh,a Rajya Sabha member.
In the last Lok Sabha elections,Rahul had picked Ashok Tanwar to contest from Sirsa (reserved),a seat that warranted a new leader,as Selja shifted her base to Ambala. Tanwar is a strong contender for the post from the Rahul camp. Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit,who has been outrightly opposing Hooda for his alleged regional bias has never concealed his wish to grab the top post,but seemed to have lost his clout,of late. Same is the case with the Jindal family,though Naveen Jindal has joined the race for the top post.