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Congress' tallest Haryana leader Hooda planning rebellion?

Monday - August 19, 2019 6:50 pm , Category : INDIA
Chandigarh, Aug 19 (IANS) Two-time Haryana Chief Minister and face of the Congress in the state, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who on Sunday said that Congress has lost its way, has put the political pot boiling in the state.
At his rally in Rohtak on Sunday, Hooda not only slammed Congress but also supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the government's move to change the status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Does this indicate rebellion is brewing in Hooda? or is he parting ways with the Congress?
Yes, his close aides told IANS on Monday, a day after his public outburst against the Congress leadership in his home turf of Rohtak.
"Hooda, who was once close to the party leadership, including Sonia Gandhi, is actually aghast at the way the party's senior leaders were deliberately ignored by the central leadership since the party lost the assembly polls in October 2014," a former Congress minister, who didn't wish to be identified, told IANS.
"Actually his public outburst is against the party's deliberate ignorance over his demands that include replacement of the state party chief (Ashok Tanwar) with whom Hooda can't see eye to eye," he explained.
Tanwar, a Dalit leader considered close to former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, has been the state unit chief since February 2014 and under his helm the party lost the 2014 general elections, then the Assembly and now the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Also, Hooda (72), the prominent Jat face in the state, was deliberately ignored by the party leadership when the Congress for the first time on August 2 occupied the benches marked for the main opposition party in the three-day Assembly session.
Despite being state's tallest leader, Hooda was ignored and her colleague Kiran Choudhary, who is quite junior to him, occupied the seat of Leader of Opposition and too without the consent of Speaker Kanwar Pal Gujjar.
Choudhary used the seat that was earlier occupied by INLD's leader Abhay Chautala.
"Failure of the high command to take a call on who will lead the party in the assembly is also one of the reasons for his anger against the party," a party inside said.
In a shrewd political move, just weeks ahead of the assembly polls, Hooda, who has been facing cases by central investigating agencies the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate for granting approval to the land deal of Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law Robert Vadra in the fag-end of his second stint as the Chief Minister, supported the Narendra Modi government's move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution.
He also announced a 25-member panel, comprising 13 MLAs owing allegiance to him, to decide the future of the party in the state, a clear signal to the central Congress leadership to hand over the party's reins in the state to him, or he would go his own way ahead of the Assembly polls, slated in October.
The Hoodas -- Deepender Hooda, his father Bhupinder Hooda and grandfather Ranbir Singh Hooda -- have represented Rohtak Lok Sabha seat nine times.
A vocal former minister, Krishnamurti Hooda has been saying that supporters want Bhupinder Hooda to float a new political outfit.
"I am hoping he will listen to the voice of the workers before taking any decision," he was quoted as saying.
The latest exit from the Congress Party was Rai legislator Jai Tirath Dhaiya, who submitted his resignation from the Assembly on August 1.
Blaming Tanwar for his resignation, he had said: "Tanwar abused me at a party meeting in Delhi, after which I made a written complaint to the party's in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad. But the party has not taken any action, which hurts my sentiments. I will always stand by Bhupinder Singh Hooda and will continue my political journey with him".
While Haryana's main opposition -- the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) -- has seen most of its legislators and leaders joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), infighting continues to dog the Congress.
In the absence of any political direction and agenda, the Congress workers were disillusioned, said a former Congress Minister.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at vishal.g@ians.in)

--IANS vg/skp