Abuse, walkouts, threats. This Haryana Congress meeting in New Delhi had it all.
In the end, according to those who attended the state coordination committee meeting, a bizarre remark by the party’s state chief Ashok Tanwar summed it up: “Mere ko agar khatam karna hai, toh mujhe goli maar do (If you want to finish me, then just shoot me).”
Haryana leaders told The Indian Express that Tanwar made the remark after being blamed for the party drawing a blank in all 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state.
Tuesday’s meeting was convened by senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to discuss strategy for the Haryana Assembly polls expected in October. But the proceedings soon spiralled out of control, the leaders said, with a faction close to former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda targetting Tanwar who has been at the helm for five years. Amid the pandemonium, they said, Azad walked out.
According to those who attended the meeting, Azad began by announcing that “certain organisational changes are going to happen soon, right from top till bottom”. He said that he had prepared a “district-wise mass contact programme” for Haryana, which he circulated among those present and called for a detailed discussion.
However, one leader claimed, “the Hooda camp had come prepared to attack Tanwar”. And before the discussion could begin, an argument broke out between Jhajjar MLA Geeta Bhukkal, a Hooda loyalist, and legislature party leader Kiran Choudhry.
Soon, sources said, the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Karnal, Kuldeep Sharma, joined in. He accused Tanwar of not calling him for an “introspection meeting” held in Karnal. Tanwar hit back, claiming that Sharma did not answer his calls. This led to an intense exchange.
Finally, sources said, Tanwar “lost his cool”.
Narrating the events that followed, a leader told The Indian Express: “There were various issues that people raised, including about the party’s state leadership. Probably, Tanwar could not take it anymore and lost his cool. He said, ‘I am alone but I will face you all. Mere ko agar khatam karna hai toh mujhe goli maar do’. Then, he walked out.”
Tanwar was not available for comment. Asked about Tanwar’s remarks, Kuldeep Sharma told The Indian Express: “I don’t know. He might have said that later, after I had left. I don’t believe in violence. I am a Gandhian. If somebody says kill me, I can’t help it. I didn’t hear that.”
Sources said that on his way out, Tanwar engaged in a heated exchange with a Congress MLA.
Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, the Gurugram candidate, is learnt to have told the leaders that “if all of us do not remain united and work together even now…then we will sink further”. Sources said he told the meeting it was time the party’s leaders stopped pulling each other down. “Everybody has an ego problem, and they blame each other,” said a leader.
Others leaders said they felt sorry for Azad. “He had come to the meeting with a detailed programme, which he had circulated to all the members. But then, he withdrew it, collected his papers and walked out. He did not say anything,” a leader said.
In all, the meeting lasted for about “35-40 minutes” and ended without any result. “I don’t think there will be another meeting anytime soon,” the leader said.