CHANDIGARH: Rebellion against Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda mounted ahead of Assembly polls with Power Minister Ajay Yadav resigning today and attacking him for "failing to learn lessons" from the Lok Sabha election debacle.
The 55-year-old six-time Congress MLA from Rewari alleged bias in matters of development and recruitment and flayed the controversial induction of members of various Commissions and statutory bodies and "domination" of the bureaucracy.
Joining the attack, Congress leader Birender Singh, a known Hooda detractor, today warned that things could "deteriorate" and other ministers may follow suit if Hooda is not replaced.
Yadav said here that he had sent his resignation to Hooda. He, however, said he would continue in Congress till the end and Sonia Gandhi is his leader. "I was power minister, but I felt powerless. Decisions were taken by officers under me and on occasions, this was done without my knowledge. This hurt my self respect," he said.
Calling himself a Congress high command loyalist, Yadav said relations with Hooda started deteriorating in his second term. "I am Sonia Gandhi's loyalist and whatever she says I will abide. I have old relations with the Gandhi family. I had no problem with Hooda until 2009, but things started taking different shape in his second term," he said.
"I was made Finance Minister (in Hooda's second term), but even when I was carrying on well, this portfolio was snatched from me on a false ground. A CD was prepared where I was falsely accused of praising Narendra Modi whereas I had made some comments pertaining to the agricultural policy of the Gujarat Government," he said.
"I have never praised Modi," he clarified.
Backing Yadav, Congress leader Birender Singh said, "What Ajay Yadav is saying today, I have been saying for the past five years now. I have been saying there is regional bias in development." He said that even though it was "late", Yadav, a six-time MLA, "has taken the right step." Singh, who has already said that he will not contest the October assembly polls if Hooda is not remove, claimed if the party high command would not act now, "things are set to worsen".
"I have information that like Yadav, others will also follow suit," he said and claimed that another Minister, "is contemplating to resign".
"A large number of MLAs will desert the Hooda camp and I fear that Congress may lose majority before the polls," he claimed.
Yadav said the Congress won only one seat in the state in the Lok Sabha elections, but has failed to learn any lessons.
"Somebody has to bell the cat...and I decided to take the step," he said.
Asked about Hooda's response to his resignation, Yadav said the Chief Minister asked him to reconsider, but he declined.
"I am waiting for the Congress High Command to take a decision," he said.
"I had detailed the reasons for the party's defeat before the Antony Panel," he said, adding he would soon meet the party leadership.
"I want respect. If that is not given what else can I do. I had to make the sacrifice of resigning under compulsion when the bias in matter of development.... and neglect of party cadres including MLAs continued and the party failed to learn any lessons from the Lok Sabha debacle," he said.
"It was essential for me to resign to give a message so that the party does not face the same situation in forthcoming assembly elections which it faced in the recent Lok Sabha elections," he said.
Yadav claimed that development and other activities in the state had been confined to a couple of districts, which he did not name. Yadav also opposed the induction of two members to State Information Commission and three to Right to Service Commission, saying only bureaucrats have been inducted as members.
"Didn't they (Government) see any politician or other persons? If the posts had been given to party cadres it would have been better," he said.
Meanwhile, opposition parties were quick to attack the ruling party after Yadav resigned.
"Congress is a sinking ship. Its leaders have realised that misdeeds, bad governance and corruption in last ten years are finally becoming an issue and they are now trying to find an escape route. Even senior ministers are not able to face the wrath of the people..... But this is not going to save the Congress from defeat," BJP leader and party's national spokesman Abhimanyu said.
Former Union Minister Venod Sharma, who has floated his outfit Jan Chetna Party after severing his four-decade-old ties with the Congress, termed Yadav's resignation as an internal matter of the party. "But it's true that Congress has failed on all fronts and such step by its Ministers is not a surprise to me," Sharma said.
Main opposition INLD's state unit chief Ashok Arora said "such tactics cannot befool the people of Haryana. Resigning just weeks before polls means nothing. They looted the state for ten years and now they are shedding crocodile tears to befool the people".
Asked about reorganisation of the state unit of the Congress and appointment of youth leader as HPCC President, Yadav said, "Ashok Tanwar should work independently. He should take all leaders along in order to strengthen the party."
On reports that Birendar Singh was unhappy with the state leadership and that he may switch over to BJP, he said that if that happens, it will certainly be a loss for the party. Yadav had occasionally criticised Hooda's style of functioning during the past three years. He claimed that a medical college proposed to be set up under the PPP model in his area had remained on paper only. "No further action has been taken in the matter," he said, adding there were various other instances reflecting "bias" of the state government in carrying out developmental works and recruitment to various departments, etc.
Speaking in the same vein, Singh said, "The way the Chief Minister has conducted himself for the last ten years, he has finished the party on the ground".
"There is total disappointment and disillusionment in rank and file of the Congress. After the Lok Sabha poll debacle, I had said that Hooda should step on moral grounds and demanded that he should be changed. I feel that the Congress should act against Hooda now before it gets too late," he said.