Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the Congress has lost its way and is no longer the party it was before. He maintained that he does not agree with his party leaders on Article 370, adding that he comes from a family of freedom fighters and will never compromise on national interests.
Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda has declared himself as the chief ministerial candidate, with or without the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled to be held later this year. At a ‘Parivartan Rally’ on his home turf Rohtak on Sunday, Hooda, a two-time Haryana CM, said that he had freed himself from all restriction and come before the people. Announcing a poll sop, Hooda said that if he becomes the CM post-elections later this year, he will ensure 75% reservation in jobs for the people of Harayana. Besides, he also promised to appoint four deputy chief ministers, ensure free travel for women in roadways buses, free electricity upto 300 units, farm loan waiver, increased monthly honorariums and pensions.
Hooda also said that he will form a committee that would include 13 sitting MLAs who support him and 12 other important state leaders. Whatever this committee decides, “I will do that,” he said. “Aaj main apni saari paabandiyon se mukt ho kar yahan aaya hoon (I have freed myself from all restrictions to come here today)” he told the crowd in Rohtak.
Hooda’s outburst brings to fore the deep divide within the party on various levels and could threaten the prospects of the party in the state which was considered the party’s citadel not too long ago. Hooda, who is the tallest leader of the party, has lately fallen out of favour of the party’s top brass and his repeated attempts with Rahul Gandhi to get Ashok Tanwar removed as party’s state chief have refused to yield any results. Ridden with intense factional wars within the state unit, and an apparent leadership vacuum right at the top in Delhi as well, things are certainly not looking up for the Congress in its attempts to make a comeback.
No wonder then that Hooda in his address also lashed out at his own party leader for opposing the Modi government’s decision to scrap Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. He said that the Congress has lost its way and is no longer the party it was before. He maintained that he does not agree with his party leaders on the issue, adding that he comes from a family of freedom fighters and will never compromise on national interests.
“When the government does something right, I support them. Many of my colleagues had opposed the decision to abrogate Article 370. My party has lost its way, it’s not the same Congress it used to be. When it comes to patriotism and self-respect, I will not compromise with anyone,” he said.
“Congress has lost its way. It is no longer the Congress of before… ,” he added.
The state will go to polls in October. The tenure of 13th Legislative Assembly expires on October 27 and a new Assembly has to be constituted before that. In 2014, elections were held in a single phase for all the 90 seats on October 15 and the results were announced on October 19.
Hooda is said to be at the loggerheads with Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Tanwar, a Dalit, who is believed to be a close aide of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Ashok was appointed as the party’s state unit chief in February 2014. Hooda is demanding to rejig the party in the state ahead of the elections to boost the morale of the party workers to overpower the BJP.
Several leaders have even demanded from the Congress leadership declare Hooda as the chief ministerial candidate of the party. However, Congress appears to be reluctant on declaring Hooda as it CM face given that he has been chargesheeted by the CBI.