In what is seen as a sign of political rebellion against the Bhupinder Singh Hooda regime, Congress MLA from Panipat city Balbir Pal Shah on Sunday tendered his resignation from the Haryana assembly.
Shah said he handed over his resignation to assembly speaker Kuldeep Sharma at his Karnal residence on Sunday.
A five-time MLA, Shah (68) told Hindustan Times on Sunday evening that he was fed up with the indifferent attitude of the state leaders. He alleged that the state Congress leadership and the official machinery created hurdles in the way of public welfare works in his constituency.
"It is unfortunate that I have failed to get legitimate works done in a constituency I have represented five times. The official machinery does not pay heed to any demand or suggestion of development works made by me in my constituency," said a disgruntled Shah. He avoided naming anyone, but said he would soon come out with details.
His outburst and decision to quit as an MLA is a reflection of simmering discontent in the party leaders and workers over "the bias in terms of development and employment" during the Congress rule. Union minister and Ambala MP Kumari Selja, Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh and Rajya Sabha MP Ishwar Singh, too, have been extremely critical of the state government headed by Hooda on the issue of discrimination in jobs and development.
Shah on Sunday remained conspicuous by his absence at an Iftar here, attended by chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. He, however, clarified that he was not quitting the Congress.
Earlier also, Shah had displayed his rebellious streak when he publicly questioned the party's decision to hand over reins of the state to a Jat leader for the second time.
After the formation of the Congress government in 2009, Shah became disappointed to find that Independent MLA from Panipat (Rural) Om Prakash Jain was inducted as a minister by Hooda to muster the required strength in the assembly. The Congress on its own had won only 40 seats in the 2009 assembly polls and needed the support of seven Independents to form the government.
Shah's resignation also fuelled speculation since earlier in the day, Rajya Sabha member Birender Singh met him at his residence. "I am a veteran and responsible leader, but there are certain people who childishly questioned why I hosted tea for Birender and why I went to meet Om Prakash Chautala in the hospital," Shah said.
"I have observed a gradual change in the attitude of state leaders towards me. There were indications as they do not want to me to represent me in the next assembly elections, but I made my mind to quit the office now," said the sulking leader.
The leader was first elected as MLA in 1987 and has represented Panipat constituency for three consecutive terms since 2000.
He remained the president of the Haryana Congress from 1987-89 and the party general secretary (1978-79 and 1985-86). He was a transport minister in the Bhajan Lal government from 1991 to 96.
Where Congress stands in House
The ruling Congress has 46 MLAs in the 90-member Haryana Vidhan Sabha. These include five MLAs who switched sides from Kuldeep Bishnoi's Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) to join the Congress. The Congress also has the support of sevn Independents and lone BSP MLA in the assembly. So, Shah's resignation, if accepted by the speaker, will not endanger the existence of the Congress government.