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Patchy show by Rahul’s man

Ashok Tanwar was unexpectedly picked by the Congress from the Sirsa (reserved) constituency for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, with lobbying for the ticket being intense.

punjab Updated: Feb 27, 2014 10:19 IST
Sat Singh
Sat Singh
Hindustan Times

Ashok Tanwar was unexpectedly picked by the Congress from the Sirsa (reserved) constituency for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, with lobbying for the ticket being intense. Regarded as a ‘lieutenant’ of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, he managed to bind the faction-ridden district unit to register a victory on the Indian National Lok Dal’s (INLD’s) home turf.

Recently appointed president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), Tanwar’s rise has been meteoric ever since he came close to Rahul after marrying Avantika Tanwar, daughter of late Congress leader Lalit Maken and granddaughter of former President Shankar Dayal Sharma.

District party leaders, who were lobbying for themselves, had accepted him as the high command’s choice despite ‘outsider’ tag. At the same time, expectations had gone up among the electorate over his claims of developing the constituency as per international standards.

After remaining absent from the constituency in the initial days following his election, he silenced his detractors by building a house in the urban estate colony, thus getting a permanent address here.

In 2011, he brought then union sports minister Ajay Maken to Sirsa and got announcements made for the setting up of a national-level football academy at Dariyapur village. However, the academy, which was supposed to groom sporting talent in this backward area of the state, has not yet come up.

He put in efforts for setting up the Sirsa-Hisar railway line via Fatehabad and Agroha (survey work got the green signal in the previous railway budget). Other highlights of his tenure include implementation of the Rajiv Awas Yojana, Arohi schools, and laying of the foundation stone of the railway overbridge (ROB) at Dabwali. The demands to set up a women’s college at Ratia and a co-educational college at Ellenabad have been fulfilled, but a separate women’s college still eludes Sirsa town.

Difference of opinion

A close aide of Tanwar said it was a round-the-clock schedule for the MP as people started pouring i with their grievances since early in the morning.

Sube Singh Chaharwala, a social activist here, said he had never seen any other Sirsa MP so active in the area, adding that Tanwar kept himself busy with one public engagement or the other. However, a village sarpanch, who wished not to be identified, said the ‘lukewarm’ response to Tanwar’s recent 12-day Jai Sirsa Lok Sabha Yatra was an indicator of his bleak prospects in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Tanwar also has to contend with opposition within his own party. He had a spat with former minister of state and Sirsa MLA Gopal Kanda during the Ratia bypoll in 2011. He also doesn’t have cordial relations with former Sirsa MLA LD Arora’s son Rahul Setia and former MP Ranjit Singh, whose vote bank matters in the INLD citadel.

Part 19 of 34,
Santosh Chowdhary, Hoshiarpur

First Published: Feb 26, 2014 23:24 IST