Two days after the Congress released a list of its coordination committee members for Haryana and withdrew it in less than an hour, the party on Monday released the same list again. This time too, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is the panel’s chairman.
The list was released by AICC general secretary in charge of Haryana Ghulam Nabi Azad in the presence of state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar. The appointment of Hooda as chairman of the coordination committee is significant as in almost all other states, barring Karnataka, the AICC in-charges concerned are heading the coordination committees. Click for more election news
In Karnataka, senior leader and former minister Ramalinga Reddy is head of the coordination committee. Reddy has been made the head probably because the AICC in-charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal is also general secretary in charge of the organisation and is saddled with much work at the national level. The workload was the reason that Venugopal, an MP in the outgoing Lok Sabha, has opted out of fighting the election.
While Azad said the list was withdrawn because the party had to set up several other election-related committees like those for campaign, publicity, and adjust and accommodate many leaders, he did not announce any other panels on Monday.
Sources said the appointment of Hooda as head of the coordination committee had become a bone of contention. Hooda has been mounting pressure on the party high command to replace Tanwar with him as the state Congress chief. He was said to be upset as his appointment as head of coordination committee was seen as a signal that the AICC may not replace Tanwar before the polls. His appointment was seen as a bid to placate him.
The Congress central leadership is of the view that a non-Jat should head the state unit.
The anti-Hooda camp in Haryana was also said to be unhappy since in all other states, AICC in-charges are heading the coordination committees. A section in the state unit is also unhappy over inclusion and exclusion of some leaders in the panel. The party, sources said, finally decided to go with the same arrangement and release the list again as removing Hooda as chairman would cause further damage.
Azad instead decided to replicate the strategy of a joint bus yatra by leaders that he had employed as party in-charge in Uttar Pradesh some years ago and in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh nearly two decades ago. Launching the poll campaign with a yatra is a bid to bring unity in the deeply divided Haryana Congress. “They were different before entering the bus, but when they come out of the bus after a few weeks, they are one. Twenty leaders become one. When they speak from one stage, when they eat from the same plate, they become one. So, we are working out this plan,” Azad said.
The members of the panel are Tanwar, CLP leader Kiran Choudhry, former Union minister Kumari Selja, AICC communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala, former ministers Kuldeep Bishnoi, Mahendra Pratap Singh and Ajay Singh Yadav; Rohtak MP Deepender Hooda, former MPs Naveen Jindal and Kailasho Saini; former MLA Anil Thakkar; MLA Kuldeep Sharma, Jaiveer Singh Balmiki and Sardar Jaipal Singh Lali.