Congress president Sonia Gandhi Saturday appointed former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda as leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Haryana.
Congress being the second largest party in state, Hooda, by virtue of being the CLP leader, will also be the Leader of Opposition in the newly-constituted Assembly, AICC Haryana in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad said in New Delhi.
The newly elected 31 Congress legislators on Friday had failed to reach a consensus on electing the CLP. At a meeting called by state party chief Kumari Selja in Chandigarh, the MLAs proposed two names — Hooda and former CLP leader Kiran Choudhary — for the post. While 24 MLAs backed Hooda, seven favoured Choudhary.
Failing to reach a consensus, the MLAs unanimously passed a resolution authorising Gandhi to elect the CLP leader.
Hooda, who had led the poll campaign of the factionalism and infighting-marred Congress, enjoys the support of a majority of the party leaders. Post the Lok Sabha elections, where Congress failed to win any of the 10 seats in Haryana, the high command effected a change in guard in state party unit. Selja was named the new state party chief replacing Ashok Tanwar, while Hooda had replaced Kiran Choudhry as the CLP leader.
Appreciating the efforts put in by Selja and Hooda during poll campaign, Azad said, “Both the leaders, having vast experience, did a commendable job”.
Azad claimed that Congress could have won another six-seven seats where party candidates were leading by 1000-1200 votes. “But the BJP government ordered recounting and got those seats in their account. It has not happened for the first time. BJP has done this in many states. Several times, we raised the issue and lodged complaints with the Election Commission, but no action has been taken,” Azad said, adding that the saffron party “wouldn’t have won more than 30-32 seats without manipulation”.
In the 90-member Assembly, the strength of BJP is 40, JJP 10, Congress 31, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Haryana Lokhit Party one each and seven independents.
Azad said that despite manipulating 7-8 seats, BJP fell short of majority and had to take support of the JJP and the Independents to form the government. “Whenever next election takes place, we will form the government with absolute majority,” he said at a press conference.
Selja, meanwhile, announced state-wide week-long protests against the BJP-JJP government, beginning November 7 “to expose Haryana government’s anti-people policies”.
“It is just the beginning. We will be organising more and more organised campaigns in future to make people aware about the government’s corrupt practices,” she added.