Cracks in Haryana Congress seemed to grow wider on Sunday as union minister and party leader Kumari Selja skipped a party meeting also attended by the chief minister at Hisar and again accused the state government of regional bias.
Following Selja's accusations of "uneven growth" in the state, chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda swung into damage control mode, announcing a special public meeting to list out developmental works carried out in Hisar during his term as the CM.
Though both Selja and Hooda were in Hisar, they did not meet each other. While the union minister for social justice and empowerment called a press conference at the PWD guest house, the CM addressed party workers at the Congress Bhawan here.
Minutes after Selja, in the press conference, claimed that the state government was employing a pick-and-choose policy when it came to development, the CM promised to change the landscape of Hisar district in the next 10 years. "If somebody visits Hisar some years from now, he would not be able to recognise the area," said the CM, who was in Hisar to attend the wedding of Congress MLA Sampat Singh's son.
Selja, meanwhile, claimed that the regional bias extended from Hisar to Ambala. "I belong to Uklana in Hisar. Local leaders often complain of lack of development. I also represent Ambala in the Parliament. The Centre had announced a rail line for the area in 2001. But the state government is yet to sanction half of the project money, though for some projects, which were announced later, it had promptly announced the funds," she said.
The CM described Selja's allegations as unfounded. "The state government has already told the Centre to provide half of the funds for the rail line she is talking about," the CM said.
At the Congress Bhawan, party MLA Vinod Sharma and Haryana Congress chief Phool Chand Mullana also put their weight behind Hooda, saying that some leaders were trying to mislead party workers. "Instead of focusing on those who are vying for plum posts, we should focus on party workers who have been serving for decades," Vinod Sharma said without naming any leaders at the workers' meeting.
Earlier, the CM's Hisar visit on Sunday created confusion among party workers as All-India Congress Committee general secretary Birender Singh held a separate meeting in Barwala. A source said the CM's meeting at Hisar was fixed at the last minute, while Birender Singh's meeting was planned. Party workers and leaders were in a fix as to which meeting they should attend as both were held simultaneously. Congress state chief Phool Chand Mullana had to clarify from the stage that the chief minister was approached for the workers' meeting at the last minute on Saturday.
People in black kept away
Keeping in view incidents of the chief minister being shown black flags by INLD workers at public meetings, authorities did not allow those wearing black clothes and bags inside the Congress Bhawan at Hisar where the workers' meeting was held on Sunday. Even mediapersons were asked to keep their bags, if black, outside. The workers were frisked and even black handkerchiefs and other such items were not allowed inside the venue. Last month, a group of INLD workers had shown black flags to the CM during a function at Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology in Hisar. Asked about the restriction, a security official said there were strict orders that anybody wearing black clothes or any such item should not be allowed inside the venue.
'R200 bonus on wheat procurement sought'
Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Sunday said that he had urged the Centre to give a bonus of Rs. 200 per quintal on procurement of wheat. The chief minister said he had written to the Centre in this regard.
'Vendetta is not my style of politics'
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda yet again refuted allegations that INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala and his son, Ajay Chautala, were convicted in the JBT scam at his behest. Describing the accusations as "canards", Hooda said he was not in the politics of vendetta. "Had I been such a person, they would have been sent to jail as soon as I came to power in 2005. They have been convicted for their wrongdoings."