Updated: June 15, 2022 8:29:19 am
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Haryana, Vivek Bansal, has come under attack within the party for his failure in ensuring a victory for the Congress candidate Ajay Maken in the Rajya Sabha election despite the party having adequate numbers.
Despite being Maken’s agent for the June 10 Upper House election, Bansal could not prevent the “wrong vote” of an MLA that sealed the former’s fate, although it was his mandate to see every party legislator’s marked ballot before being cast. He was expected to be on his guard especially as the party had been anticipating the sulking dissident leader Kuldeep Bishnoi to indulge in “cross-voting” in the poll.
The AICC leadership has now entrusted Bansal with the task of “identifying” the party MLA whose vote was rejected due to the ballot paper being “wrongly marked” that led to Maken’s defeat at the hands of the ruling BJP-JJP-backed Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma in a photo finish that stretched till the wee hours of June 11. Maken lost to Sharma by just 2/3rd of one vote. The BJP candidate in the fray, Krishan Panwar, had sailed through smoothly.
The Congress leadership appointed Bansal, a former UP MLA, as its Haryana in-charge in September 2020, replacing party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad with him. It has been a formidable assignment for Bansal from the beginning, given the groupism, dissension and infighting plaguing the state Congress for long.
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Bansal, 63, hails from UP’s Aligarh. The last time he won the Assembly poll was in 2002 from Aligarh seat. Since then, he has been losing from Koil seat. He lost the 2012 poll by just 500 votes to a Samajwadi Party candidate, while in 2017 and 2022, he finished third behind the candidates of the BJP and the SP.
According to his affidavit filed with the Election Commission for the 2022 poll, Bansal had assets worth over Rs 5 crore and his primary source of earning is “rental income and others”. He also had several criminal cases registered against him, most of which were “not-serious” related mainly to Covid-19 violations. He had done his post-graduation from Aligarh Muslim University.
After taking charge of Haryana, Bansal has struggled to keep the faction-riven Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) united. The AICC leadership recently appointed ex-chief minister and Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s loyalist Udai Bhan as the HPCC president, replacing him with Kumari Selja.
Ever since he has been appointed as the Haryana Congress in-charge, Bansal has been candid in admitting factionalism in the state unit. Maintaining that there are different voices within every party, he however says everyone’s voice is being heard.
In the wake of the June 10 Rajya Sabha poll fiasco, the Congress high command has sought a report from Bansal on the entire episode. He says he is close to finding out the Congress MLA who marked his/her ballot-paper “wrongly”.
Talking to The Indian Express, Bansal said, “There is a way to identify the MLA who filled his/her ballot paper wrongly. I am refreshing my memory. Party high command has sought a report from me and in two-three days, I shall be submitting it.” When asked if he has identified the MLA, he said, “I have zeroed in on three-four of them and shall soon be able to identify that person.”
On his part, Hooda said, “The party is analysing the election results in detail. We are carrying out scrutiny to identify which Congress MLA’s vote was cancelled. The counting agent of Congress knows the ballot number of that MLA.”
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