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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Tussle in Congress as elections nears

Vishal Joshi, Hindustan Times   Karnal, May 21, 2013
First Published: 23:22 IST(21/5/2013) | Last Updated: 23:24 IST(21/5/2013)

Bickering in the Congress is visible as elections to the Karnal municipal corporation nears.

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Several party leaders have openly supported a staunch opponent to local Congress legislator Sumita Singh. Renu Gupta, an independent candidate from ward number 12 is a wife of a local influential entrepreneur Brij Gupta, a known detractor of Karnal MLA Sumita Singh.

On Monday, as Renu filed the nomination, several Congress leaders accompanied her to the office of the assistant returning officer and publicly assured her support.

Prominent among those present included Congress leaders from the Punjabi community Desraj Gaba and Parag Gaba, and Vidhan Sabha speaker's close aide Kanwal Bhasin. Several other former councillors having proximity to Congress leaders supported Renu's candidature.

The Congress is not contesting the MC elections on the party symbol and its parliamentarians, legislators and the office-bearers at all ranks are not openly campaigning for any candidate. Those who maintain a close watch at the civic elections said that if Renu won, she would be among the frontrunners for the post of mayor.

Political observers said that for the two-time MLA Sumita, who was recently elevated to the post of chairperson of the Haryana Warehousing Corporation, it would be a political threat to her if her opponent gains the seat of mayor.

Once considered close to the local MLA, Brij developed strained relations with Sumita and now he has thrown a challenge to her by fielding his wife. Other local Congress leaders from the anti-Sumita faction have pitched in with Guptas to prove their supremacy.

The political observers said the strong intra-party rivalry in the Congress was visible in various wards where leaders have fielded their supporters against candidates of rival factions.

Last month, during a district-level party meeting convened here by Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Phool Chand Mullana, Congress leaders had almost clashed with the district president and said several MPs and MLAs had directed officials not to entertain issues raised by them.

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