With Sonia Gandhi back as Congress chief, Haryana unit hopes to settle infightinghttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/with-sonia-gandhi-back-as-congress-chief-haryana-unit-hopes-to-settle-infighting-5897227/

With Sonia Gandhi back as Congress chief, Haryana unit hopes to settle infighting

Haryana Assembly polls are due in October. Ever since Congress’ former president Rahul Gandhi stepped down after party’s humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, the chinks within the Haryana Congress, mainly between Bhupinder Singh Hooda and state president Ashok Tanwar factions, had started getting wider.

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Congress president (interim) Sonia Gandhi. (PTI)

With Sonia Gandhi back as interim president of the Congress, the party’s Haryana unit is hoping that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding its affairs in the state would get resolved soon.

Haryana Assembly polls are due in October. Ever since Congress’ former president Rahul Gandhi stepped down after party’s humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, the chinks within the Haryana Congress, mainly between Bhupinder Singh Hooda and state president Ashok Tanwar factions, had started getting wider.

The BJP won all 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana with huge victory margins. Although Congress had fielded all its heavyweights in Lok Sabha polls, no one, including Hooda or Tanwar, came even close to BJP candidates and lost badly. The only Congress candidate who gave a tough fight to BJP was Deepender Hooda who lost by a wafer-thin margin of 7,503 votes.

Read | Sonia to Rahul to Sonia: Congress takes step back to move forward

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The Bhupinder Hooda faction had been eagerly looking towards New Delhi for the past over two months hoping that party high command will take a decision on their repeated requests of replacing party’s Haryana chief Ashok Tanwar. However, no decision was taken since the party high command was itself headless and in a state of confusion.

“It is expected that the party high command will soon take a decision and clear the uncertainty prevailing in Haryana Congress, since the timing is very crucial for us. Assembly elections are barely a couple of months away and party workers need to know who is leading them,” a senior Congress leader said. Despite repeated attempts made by Hooda faction seeking Tanwar’s replacement, including Rai MLA Jai Tirath Dahiya resigning in protest against party high command’s inaction against Tanwar, nothing changed in party’s state unit.

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“In the last two months, there was little confusion over who will take the reins of Congress. I think, the kind of steam required in the states where elections are coming up was lacking. But now with Sonia ji at the helm of affairs, she gives extremely capable leadership. Because of her sacrifice and acumen, we could regain many states and twice we formed government at the Centre,” Tanwar told The Indian Express. Talking about the divide and uncertainty in Haryana, Tanwar added, “Now, I think things will settle down. Our ultimate and single objective is to oust BJP from the state and we will achieve that goal together.”

On lack of synergy in Haryana Congress and slant of MLAs towards Bhupinder Hooda, Tanwar said, “This is nothing new in the state. Many people affiliate with one or the other in state leadership. There might be many who are not affiliated with either of us, but they are very much in Congress and equally passionate about the party. Their ideology and commitment is also at par with other leaders. If MLAs are on that side, organisation (sangathan) is on this side. But, now it is high time. We all have to work together. And, there must be complete synergy not between two or three leaders but at all levels and at the top leadership of the state”.

Bhupinder Hooda and his son Deepender, meanwhile, have been spearheading election campaign across the state on their own. With the support of 12 out of 15 incumbent MLAs in Haryana, Hooda had held several workers’ meetings in New Delhi, Faridabad, Rohtak and Mewat.

Talking about the uncertainty within the Haryana Congress and replacement of Tanwar, Hooda added, “As such party’s concentration will be high on election going states. A resolution has already been passed and been submitted to the party high command, which has to take a decision now.”

Amid speculation that Hoodas may part ways with Congress and announce a new party if party high command does not replace Tanwar, Hoodas have announced a massive “Parivartan (change) rally” in Rohtak on August 18.

Bhupinder Hooda, however, vehemently refuted such speculation. “All this is hypothetical,” he said, adding that “even today, I held workers’ meetings in Faridabad and Mewat and got good response. I hope that August 18 rally will be a massive one.”

“These is speculation, but I guess he (Bhupinder) too has denied it many times. We must trust what he says,” Tanwar told The Indian Express.