Ahead of assembly polls, Congress’s Haryana unit set for overhaul
The Congress is contemplating major changes in its Haryana unit after its Lok Sabha performance, with assembly polls due in October in the state.
The Congress failed to win a single seat while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won all 10 Lok Sabha seats.
A Congress functionary familiar with the developments said the entire party organisation in the state will be restructured.
Infighting has also taken a heavy toll on the Congress in the past few years with former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda up in arms against state president Ashok Tanwar.
The faction-ridden party even struggled to find candidates for the Lok Sabha elections after many senior leaders expressed unwillingness to contest possibly in the wake of the party’s defeat in the Jind bypoll in January.
A Congress office bearer from Haryana who spoke on the condition of anonymity said kin of political families were given tickets on seven out of the total 10 Lok Sabha seats and all of them lost. “The Lok Sabha results show that we have lost in 80 out of the total 90 assembly constituencies,” he added.
Hooda has consistently been demanding Tanwar’s removal arguing that he had failed to take everybody along resulting in increased factionalism.
Leaders owing allegiance to Hooda claim that the party has lost last three polls – Lok Sabha and assembly elections in 2014 and the recent general elections – under Tanwar’s leadership.
On the other hand, Tanwar had blamed the rival faction for creating obstacles. A few weeks ago, the Congress leadership had indicated that a change of guard in Haryana will take place after the Lok Sabha elections irrespective of the outcome.
Just before the national elections, Congress general secretary in-charge of Haryana Ghulam Nabi Azad had held a series of consultations with state leaders on the possible names to replace Tanwar.
However, the party then decided to defer the move given that the Lok Sabha polls were close and the new chief would take some time to settle down.
Azad has since resumed discussions with the state leaders, though a section is upset that he is consulting the defeated candidates and not the grassroots workers.
Besides Hooda, party’s communications department head Randeep Singh Surjewala and former Lok Sabha member Deepinder Singh Hooda, former union minister Kumari Selja and Congress Working Committee, member Kuldeep Bishnoi are the other front-runners.
The political dynamics in Haryana has changed in the last few years and the state is witnessing a sharp division on caste lines between Jats and non-Jats. The political parties are now drafting their electoral strategies based on these calculations.
On the possible change of guard, Tanwar said the Congress high command will take a final call but insisted that he has already started the ground work for the coming assembly elections. “We lost the Lok Sabha elections because the issues were different but in the assembly polls our campaign will focus on the performance of the state government,” he said.