Arguing that the Haryana Congress has become “Hooda Congress”, former state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar raised a banner of revolt ahead of Assembly elections by resigning from all election-related committees. He did not resign from the party, but made it clear that he would not cooperate with the state leadership as his supporters were ignored in ticket distribution.
Sources said that former chief minister and CLP leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda had got his way in terms of selection of candidates — as many as 60 tickets went to his loyalists. The other big leaders — state Congress chief Kumari Selja, Tanwar, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kuldeep Bishnoi — got only a handful of tickets for their supporters. Tanwar, those close to him said, got only two tickets for his supporters.
A day after he protested outside Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence, Tanwar on Thursday sent her a letter claiming that some “individuals” were “selling tickets and subverting the great political legacy of the Congress party by ruthlessly killing the political career of hardworking Congress leaders”. He argued that a section of Haryana Congress leaders focused on attacking him because “of their personal prejudices and selfish interests” over the last five years when he was state Congress president.
Setback to high command’s efforts
The former Haryana Congress chief’s move has blown a hole in the party high command’s attempt to sent a signal of unity through leadership change. While the high command tries to regroup after the crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, this tussle only adds to the drift in the grand old party. It also exposes the tussle between the old guard and young leaders who were promoted by Rahul Gandhi.
“The same individuals sabotaged the party, haven’t done any organisational work at the grassroots and didn’t allow the party to function properly in Haryana by stalling the appointments of committees and office-bearers… it is excruciating to see the same individuals taking all the decisions and instead of allowing just, free and fair selection of candidates…” he said.
Tanwar said he had suggested that those who contested the last Lok Sabha elections, those who had forfeited their deposits in the last election and those who had lost twice or more consecutively should not be given tickets. He also wanted that “those who have openly worked against party whip in the Assembly or had taken an anti-party stand outside the House (like sabotaging the Congress candidate in Rajya Sabha election) should not be given tickets. Besides, he argued that “sitting MLAs do not automatically qualify for tickets”. He was referring to the defeat of R K Anand, the Congress candidate in Rajya Sabha election in 2016, after the votes of at least 14 party MLAs were found invalid.
“I have tried to raise these issues with my seniors in the party and found them to be indifferent and not willing to understand or resolve this unprecedented crisis…” he said.
Tanwar said “it feels like the Congress in Haryana has been hijacked by an individual and even senior leaders of the AICC are insensitive towards the Haryana Congress becoming Hooda Congress. Ever since the Lok Sabha elections, I have felt that the party has become unresponsive. This has not only demoralised the party workers, but the lack of a united and strong opposition is also giving a free run to the BJP for undoing the Congress party’s ideals and principles that have been the foundation of our nation.”
Tanwar reiterated that party workers are alleging corruption in ticket distribution, but did not provide details. He said if need be, he would give adequate proof to Sonia Gandhi.
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