In yet another major blow to the Congress, the three-time MP from Faridabad, Avtar Singh Bhadana (58) quit the party and joined principal opposition party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) at New Delhi on Wednesday.
Interacting with mediapersons, Bhadana said he quit the Congress as several of its leaders worked against him, which led to his defeat in the recent Lok Sabha elections. He said he had informed the party high command that Hooda and his coterie were responsible for the Congress' poor performance in Haryana and also in the Faridabad constituency, but to no avail.
Bhadana alleged that Hooda, who was a confidant of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was blackmailing her over the issue of Vadra's controversial land deals.
INLD leader Abhay Chautala welcomed Bhadana into the party.
Bhadana had won the Faridabad Lok Sabha seat in 1991, 2004 and 2009. During the 2014 parliamentary polls, he was pitted against BJP's Krishan Pal Gurjar who defeated Bhadana by a massive margin of over 4.6 lakh votes. Bhadana had resigned from the Congress on August 5, citing inaction by the high command against Hooda and his coterie.
Meanwhile, yet another exit of a senior party leader because of Hooda, and allegations against him, is being seen as another major blow to Hooda as well. He was jeered at in the public rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kaithal on Tuesday and was yet to recover from the blow dealt by Congress veteran Birender Singh, who joined the BJP on August 16 at Jind.
Hooda had been at the receiving end for quite some time within the party, especially senior leaders, though the Congress central leadership stood by him.
Only a few weeks ago, he was put in poor light after power minister Capt Ajay Yadav, six-time MLA from Rewari, had quit from the cabinet alleging biased development. He was though pacified by Hooda.
Besides Birender Singh, former union minister and Rajya Sabha MP Kumari Selja, the influential Dalit leader, too, had been vocal and critical of Hooda' style of governance for quite some time, alleging neglect of her community and parliamentary constituency.
The dissidence against Hooda was seen as a major reason behind the party's rout - the Congress lost nine of the 10 seats with huge margins - in the recent Lok Sabha elections in the state.
Before the parliamentary polls, former minister and MP from Gurgaon, Rao Inderjit Singh and former Sohna MLA Dharambir had dumped the Congress, levelling similar charges and joined the BJP on whose ticket they won the parliamentary election.
And as if this was not enough, Hooda's childhood friend, businessman-turned-politician Venod Sharma, who was the Congress MLA from Ambala (city), had also rebelled against the party, snapping his ties of four decades with Hooda, citing disparity in development and favours on regional or caste lines.
Arvind Sharma, a three-time MP who lost to Ashwini Chopra 'Minna' of the BJP from Karnal in the Lok Sabha elections, joined the Bahujan Samaj Party recently. He said he joined the BSP as the Congress had failed to protect the interests of various communities.