NEW DELHI: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is removing three state unit chiefs, appointed by her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, over their non-performance. All of them—Ashok Chaudhary in Bihar, Ashok Tanwar in Haryana and Arun Yadav in Madhya Pradesh—have failed to curb infighting in their respective states and take the various factions along. This has hurt the party’s interests and hence, the corrective action, said party sources.
In Bihar, Chaudhary’s role came under the scanner recently after he was found to be trying to rock the Congress from within by engineering defections among the 27 party MLAs to the ruling JD(U). Though Sonia’s timely intervention has contained the damage for now, a thorough revamp of the state unit is on the cards. Congress insiders said that while the focus is on regrouping the party in the state, a stronger local unit is needed to show ally Lalu Prasad his place as the RJD chief is flexing his muscles. On his part, Rahul recently met party’s Bihar lawmakers to hear their complaints, but kept Chaudhary out of the consultations, said a senior AICC functionary. In Haryana, the never-ending feud between Tanwar, a Dalit, and the camp of former chief minister
Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has turned out to be a constant headache for the high command, said a senior AICC strategist. Acknowledging that infighting in the Haryana unit may dent the Congress’ plans to capitalise on the growing anti-Khattar government sentiment, top sources in the party said Sonia might deploy her loyalist Kumari Selja in place of Tanwar. Not only Selja fits the bill being a Dalit leader, the former Union minister commands respect among the party’s various factions, especially the Jat leaders.
In MP, which will go to polls in 2018, Sonia posted a new AICC team headed by Deepak Babaria last week and is set to announce a replacement for Yadav, who has allegedly failed to broker peace among the warring factions of Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
AICC sources acknowledged that the high command is divided on finalising on Scindia or Nath to steer the party in MP. Sources said the changes are needed to prepare the Congress for the 2019 elections. Among the three states, Bihar sends the biggest chunk of 40 members to Lok Sabha, followed by MP (29) and Haryana (10).
In the Firing Line
Ashok Chaudhary (Bihar)
His role came under the scanner recently after he was found to be trying to rock the Congress boat by engineering defections among the 27 party MLAs to the ruling JD(U).
Ashok Tanwar (Haryana)
Factional feud between him and the camp of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has turned out to be a constant headache for the high command.
Arun Yadav (Madhya Pradesh)
Has allegedly failed in his capacity as state Congress president to broker peace among the warring factions of Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia.