Winning Haryana critical for Cong to bounce back: Tanwar
Winning Haryana assembly elections is critical as it will help the Congress to bounce back at the national arena.
CHANDIGARH The authority of Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar has been under challenge from within the party ever since the Congress high-command handed over the reins of the state unit to this Dalit leader. By not considering Rohtak strongman and former two-term chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for the top post, the Congress high command seems to have been playing it safe in terms of caste equations ahead of crucial assembly elections. In a freewheeling chat with HT, he speaks on various issues. Edited excerpts:
Haryana assembly elections are just two months away. How the Congress is preparing for this crucial battle?
We began preparations for the upcoming assembly elections soon after we lost the October 2014 assembly elections. We hit the roads to highlight all burning issues. Despite this, unfortunately we lost the parliamentary elections because of various reasons. We have chalked out a detailed programme to spread across the state and nail the lies of the BJP. We will expose this façade of so- called transparency in recruitment. We will expose the land deals of the BJP and lack of development. The crumbling law and order and farm distress are other important issues.
Will you remain party chief till assembly elections? What is your message to the party rank and file?
Party has to decide if I will continue…I obey decisions of the party with humility. My each step has been aimed at strengthening the party. This is not the time to indulge in blame game. Let’s bury the differences. This is the time to deliver. After Lok Sabha result people expect us to fight unitedly. And to bounce back at the national arena, winning Haryana assembly elections is critical for the Congress.
What are the reasons behind the party’s rout in Lok Sabha polls?
There isn’t one single reason which can be cited…There are many factors. Some of them can be cited, while some of them can’t be. The ‘so-called transparency in recruitment’ worked to the advantage of the BJP.
Restive Congress workers say top state leaders should introspect instead of blaming the BJP’s smart campaign.
We are looking into the problems which are internal…we are trying to sort out those issues.
What are these internal problems you are referring to?
There was a lack of coordination among the top state leaders. There were people (read Congress leaders) who had different agenda. Their agenda differed from party’s agenda. Our goal was to oust the BJP and the INLD from the state, while their agenda was different. Hence, the strength with which we had to enter the electoral battlefield was missing.
Top state party leaders are battling among themselves instead of engaging the BJP. Your comments?
Definitely…sometimes this impression goes outside… I have been urging them all not to send such signals. The leadership issues will be sorted out. Now our target should be to defeat BJP. BJP’s catchphrase is ‘75 paar’ (75-plus), our motto is BJP bahar (Oust BJP).
Did infighting hurt electoral prospects of the Congress in Haryana?
It was one of the major issues. When we used to go to the people, they used to say ‘first you set your house in order.’ ‘We are with you,’ they would say. In the days to come we will resolve these issues…
What is at the root of tension between you and Bhupinder Singh Hooda?
I don’t know…I am an obedient soldier of the party. Even as student leader I used to deal firmly with factional feuds. Unfortunately, I myself have become a victim of this group politics in the state.
Has AICC been soft in dealing with Hooda?
I won’t say whether it was soft or hard, but things didn’t work out the way they should have been.
Why AICC is not settling the leadership issue?
AICC has taken various steps to ensure that this is corrected… wo kehte hai Tanwar hatao, main kehta hun bhajapa hatao, inelo hatao (my rivals within party say oust Tanwar, I say oust BJP, INLD). Until that is the goal, we won’t taste success.
Under whose leadership Haryana Congress will contest the assembly elections?
We are a national party and we have central leadership having a galaxy of leaders who give us direction. In Haryana all of us will collectively spearhead this campaign.
So, the Congress will not project one face.
We have many faces in Haryana.
Has Hooda invited you for his August 18 rally?
This rally is being seen as an attempt of Hooda to pressurise the AICC to settle the leadership issue before assembly polls.
No, I don’t think any pressure tactics works in the Congress.