The gloves were off in the ongoing infighting in the Haryana Congress on Tuesday with supporters of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda seeking removal of state party chief Ashok Tanwar and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Kiran Choudhry from their posts.
The Hooda loyalists, who include 12 of 17 party MLAs in the state, made this demand in a meeting with Congress veteran leader Sushil Kumar Shinde in New Delhi. They met Shinde one by one and then also jointly to “reinforce” their demand.
Shinde, who also met several office-bearers of the state Congress, ex-MLAs and others during the day, is probing the clash between supporters of the two factions of the Haryana Congress at an important party event in the national capital on October 6 during which Tanwar sustained injuries and had to be admitted to a hospital. Calling it a “well-planned conspiracy”, Tanwar, one of whose supporters filed a police complaint, alleged that he was attacked by Hooda’s supporters.
CONDEMN CLASH, MAKE COUNTER-CHARGES
The MLAs supporting Hooda, who drew their strategy at a ‘luncheon meeting’ at the former CM’s residence in Delhi on Monday, hit back at the HPCC chief in their meeting with Shinde, blaming Tanwar and Kiran for the “atmosphere of mistrust” in the party.
“We told Shinde how they have gone to the constituencies of MLAs without informing them, inducted our adversaries, praised (chief minister Manohar Lal) Khattar and not run any major agitation or campaign against the state government,” a senior legislator told Hindustan Times.
While condemning the clash at the party show, they also handed over a “signed letter” to Shinde to reiterate their allegations against the two leaders as planned. The MLAs were vocal after the meeting also.
Palwal MLA Karan Singh Dalal said that like the surgical strikes, there was clinical surgery going on in the state Congress.
“Their actions have been detrimental to the party. I am hopeful they will be taken care of. And the party will get a new look. They have been giving issues to the BJP instead of focussing on its government’s failures. We have mentioned everything that has been happening in writing to the party leadership,” he said.
Geeta Bhukkal, MLA from Jhajjar, said the scuffle was unfortunate, but what happened subsequently was more unfortunate. “The HPCC chief should not have created a scene,” she said without mincing words. Another Hooda supporter, Kalanaur MLA Shakuntla Khatak said the clash was a “spur of the moment” incident and not a conspiracy as was being alleged. “Tanwar should not have given such a statement,” she told reporters after the meeting.
While Tanwar and Kiran had met Shinde on Monday and laid the blame for the internal bickering on Hooda and his supporters, former minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav and several party office-bearers are also learnt to have backed them. Two other MLAs, Kuldeep Bishnoi and Renuka Bishnoi, met Shinde separately, but refused to discuss details of their meeting. They are counted among Hooda detractors, though.
Shinde, a former Union minister, was asked by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to probe the clash between supporters of Tanwar and Hooda outside the Bhairon temple near Pragati Maidan in Delhi on October 6 where party workers had gathered to receive AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the final leg of his 26-day kisan yatra that culminated at Parliament Street. While the party leadership had hoped to have a good gathering at the event, the clash proved to be a huge embarrassment.