Several pairs of father-son duo, a mother and her daughter, two pairs of siblings, and at least one couple are among the 195 delegates selected by the Haryana Congress to vote in the election for the party’s national president. The October 17 election is taking place amid concerted efforts by Congress for an image makeover by shunning nepotism and dynasty politics and calling for ensuring “one person one post”.
After keeping it under wraps for nearly two weeks, the Haryana Congress finally released the names of delegates on Saturday, on a day when the party’s Central Election Authority announced that only two leaders — Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor — are in the fray for the top post.
Those who have made it to the list of delegates include state party chief Udai Bhan (delegate No. 73), his son Devesh Kumar (No. 74) and son-in-law Sudhir Choudhry (No. 80). Others who have made it to the list with at least one family member include Mahendragarh MLA Rao Dan Singh (No. 104) and his son Akshat Singh Rao (No. 160); former MLA Ranbir Singh Mahendra (No. 189) and his son Anirudh Choudhry (No. 186); former Vidhan Sabha Speaker Kuldeep Sharma (No. 126) and his son Chanakya Sharma (No. 40); Raghuveer Tewatia (No. 69) and his son Tarun Tewatia (No. 175); HPCC working president Ram Kishan Gujjar (No. 27) and his wife Shelly Choudhry (No. 26); and Paramvir Singh (No. 117) and his son Randhir Singh (No. 113).
The list also caries the names of former CM and Leader of Opposition in Haryana Vidhan Sabha Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his Rajya Sabha member son Deepender Hooda; Tosham MLA Kiran Choudhry and her daughter and HPCC working president Shruti Choudhry. Mullana MLA Varun Chaudhary and his father and former HPCC president Phool Chand Mullana along with Rewari MLA Chinrajeev Rao and his father and former minister Capt Ajay Yadav also figure in the list.
All MLAs have made it to the list.
Earlier the process to appoint the delegates had got delayed as three leaders including former minister Randeep Surjewala, former HPCC president Kumari Selja and Kiran Choudhry, all known Hooda detractors, approached the party high command accusing Hooda and Bhan of ignoring them in finalising the list of delegates. They also met chairman of the Congress’s Central Election Authority (CEA), Madhusudan Mistry, in New Delhi seeking his intervention.
The process was, however, completed and in presence of former MP Tara Chand Bhagora, who was appointed as the Pradesh Returning Officer (PRO), the list of delegates was finalised on September 20. The list, which was supposed to be displayed at the party’s office in Chandigarh immediately, however, was put up only on Saturday
The list has names of Surjewala’s brother Sudeep Surjewala (No. 98) and Selja’s brother Jagannath (No. 58). Randeep figures as delegate No. 97 and Selja is delegate No. 2.
Talking to The Indian Express, a senior party leader said, “It is bizarre. While Hooda is an MLA, his son Deepender is an MP. They both can be delegates. Similarly Kiran Choudhry is a MLA and her daughter Shruti is one of the four working presidents. But what about the family members of the other leaders? On what basis have they been included as delegates? It was clearly mentioned in the Udaipur Chintan Shivir that party workers have to be prioritised while giving such positions. It is not reflected in this list”.
Bhan, however, defended the list. “Selection has been made on the basis of the work and efforts that the candidate had put in in increasing the membership of the party. There would be a few such cases where a man and his son have been appointed as delegates, but it is purely on merit. If I have worked hard for the party, does it mean that my son or daughter can not do the same? If they have contributed to the party, they deserve such a position,” Bhan told The Indian Express.
Another senior party leader, however, slammed the list for nor keeping senior leaders at the top. “It seems seniority was not kept in mind while finalising the list. For instance a five-time MLA like Kiran Choudhry figures last among the delegates, while there are people like Tewatia and Ranbir Mahendra who have lost elections multiple times, who figure at the top. Even their relatives figure above seasoned leaders. In party’s Udaipur Chintan Shivir, AICC president Sonia Gandhi had asked everybody to take a pledge not to promote ‘Bhai-Bhateejavaad’ (nepotism) in the party. This list of delegates is exactly opposite to that,” the party leader said.
Talking to The Indian Express, Kiran Choudhry said, “How does it matter if my or Shruti’s name has been put up at the bottom of the list of delegates. Who knows, by the time polls happen, whether PCC chief Udai Bhan would even figure in the list or not?”