Updated: May 17, 2022 10:22:10 am
After former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar quit the grand old party in a dramatic fashion last Saturday, when its Chintan Shivir was underway in Udaipur, the party has now turned its focus to the moves of rebels in neighbouring Haryana.
“Good luck and goodbye, Congress,” Jakhar said, wrapping up his “last address” to the party and ending his family’s five-decade-old association with it.
Like its Punjab counterpart, the Congress unit in Haryana has also been beset with factional wars and discord. Take for instance the case of senior Haryana Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi, who had publicly expressed his resentment on April 27 when the party high command appointed a known loyalist of ex-chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Udai Bhan, as the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president.
An aspirant for a leadership role, ex-MP Bishnoi publicly declared that he was “angry”, as he could not find a place among the HPCC brass. He has since continued to be at loggerheads with the state party leadership.
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An “upset” Bishnoi has also been skipping the party’s events now. He did not attend the event held at the state party headquarters in Chandigarh on May 4, when Bhan and four HPCC working presidents took charge of their new jobs. Despite being a special invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Bishnoi did not attend the Chintan Shivir too.
A four-time MLA from Adampur, Bishnoi has been holding public meetings in and around his home turf in recent days. He has even met the BJP leader and CM, Manohar Lal Khattar, in an apparent bid to take up issues related to his constituency.
Haryana Congress insiders say that there are signs that Bishnoi, if not placated promptly, may resort to taking a step that may hurt the Congress and dent its prospects in the next Assembly polls slated for October 2024.
Bishnoi is a key non-Jat leader in the Haryana Congress, which is dominated by Jat leaders such as Hooda, his son and Rajya Sabha member Deependra and All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of communication Randeep Singh Surjewala. Bhan is a Dalit leader.
A patron of the Akhil Bharatiya Bishnoi Mahasabha, Bishnoi, while addressing a meeting of the community in Hisar on April 25, had said that he might have “political differences but not social differences” with his critics.
Bishnoi had been actively lobbying for a significant HPCC role, with party sources telling The Indian Express that his candidature did not make the cut despite being under initial consideration. His name did not even figure among the four new HPCC working presidents.
His close aides told the Express that he was waiting for a meeting with top Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. “Although Kuldeep ji has sought time to meet Rahul Gandhi, the meeting has not taken place yet. We shall see as and when it takes place,” one of his aides said.
Soon after the new HPCC team was announced by AICC general secretary KC Venugopal, Bishnoi had said that he would announce his future course of action after “seeking a reply from Rahul Gandhi”.
When asked about Bishnoi’s ire, AICC in-charge of Haryana, Vivek Bansal, told the Express: “It shall all be sorted out soon, I am in touch with Bishnoi.” Bansal also said that to constitute the Congress’s district and block units, the conduct of organisational polls at these levels would be the party’s priorities in the coming days.
By strengthening Hooda’s control over the Haryana Congress, the AICC leadership might have tried to defuse the crisis of factional feuds that have been plaguing the state unit for several years, but it has to deal with a fresh bout of infighting and dissension now.
Significantly, Bishnoi has been a known detractor of Hooda. He was even ousted from the party in 2007 for taking on then CM Hooda.
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