In a surprise decision, the Congress on Wednesday decided to field Randeep Singh Surjewala, its national communication department head, for the by-elections to the Jind Assembly constituency in Haryana. The decision was announced after day-long consultations between the Congress high command, including party president Rahul Gandhi, and the state Congress leadership.
Surjewala, a former minister in the Bhupinder Singh Hooda Cabinet, is presently an MLA from Kaithal constituency. The Congress, its leaders said, wants to put its best foot forward in Jind by fielding Surjewala ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections later this year.
Jind is an INLD stronghold and the Congress was wiped out in the district in the last two Assembly elections. With the INLD having split, the Congress wants to seize the opportunity and party leaders said Surjewala is the ideal candidate given the fact that the constituency is Jat-dominated. “We needed a good candidate and he is one of the best. With his victory, we are going to set the tone for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections,” state Congress president Ashok Tanwar said.
The Congress’s decision to field a heavyweight comes against the backdrop of the drubbing it suffered in the mayoral elections in five cities of Haryana last month. Hours before the Congress fielded Surjewala, the BJP announced Krishna Middha as its candidate from the seat. Middha is son of Harichand Middha, whose death necessitated the by-elections.