A meeting of a Congress poll panel for Haryana on Monday saw a heated exchange between chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and state party president Ashok Tanwar over distribution of tickets, sources told HT on Wednesday.
A party leader said the screening committee, a panel that shortlists candidates for an upcoming poll, cleared 21 names for final approval by the central election committee, headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
However, the meeting saw a heated exchange after Tanwar vetoed as many as 15 names suggested by the Hooda camp. Out of these, seven are facing allegations of corruption charges in the cash for change of land use (CLU) scam. The main opposition, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) had released video clips purportedly showing these Congress leaders, including four MLAs, asking money for the CLU.
The matters turned murkier as Tanwar twice walked out of the meeting in protest and told the panel that he would not clear the names on these 15 seats as it would send a wrong signal to voters at a time when the Congress was struggling to stage a comeback after its worst ever drubbing in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Tanwar, who is considered close to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, also decided to withhold the names on eight other seats as sitting legislators and senior leaders had expressed inability to contest and sought ticket for their children. His argument was that there were many other leaders willing to contest.
“Let Soniaji and Rahulji clear these names,” he is said to have told the meeting.
In another attempt to reach out to Hooda’s detractors, Tanwar made BSP rebel Chander Pal join the Congress in presence of senior leader Kumari Selja on Tuesday.