The Congress, struggling to douse fires in its Punjab state unit, is now facing another conflagration — neighbouring Haryana. The party’s state unit in Haryana, with its divided loyalties to former Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda, current party chief Kumari Selja and Randeep Singh Surjewala, appears headed for a clash as Mr Hooda’s loyalists sought a “bigger role” for him and wanted Ms Selja out.
The talk of more prominence for Mr Hooda comes as the state unit heads for a reshuffle after six years.
Today, 19 MLAs have met the KC Venugopal, the general secretary of the party.
This was preceded by a meeting on Friday with Vivek Bansal, the party’s Haryana in-charge, in Delhi.
Party sources said the legislators sought a “strong leadership” for the party in the state, favouring a key role for Mr Hooda and the removal of Kumari Selja.
The MLAs said they were being ignored by Ms Selja as well as the organisation.
They also raised the issue that the party does not have district unit chiefs for the last eight years, which was interfering with its grassroot-level expansion.
Ms Selja has played down the meeting, saying the MLAs can meet the party in-charge any time.
“I don’t see any indiscipline if party legislators go and meet the party’s state unit in-charge and say something. It is their right. Bansal sahab has later clarified what the meeting was all about,” she was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
Ahead of 2019 polls, Ms Selja – a Dalit face in the state — had replaced Ashok Tanwar as state president. At the time, she was the consensus candidate for all the factions.
But the reshuffle did not work out. The party won only 31 of the state’s 90 seats. The BJP retained power scooping up 40 seats. The BJP also has the outside support of 10 MLAs from the Jannayak Janata Party and five Independents.