NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: To check factionalism ahead of the Haryana polls, the Congress on Wednesday fell back on its traditional Jat-Dalit formula to appoint Kumari Selja as the Haryana chief and made Bhupinder Singh Hooda the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and Chairman of the Haryana Election Management Committee.
The move is being seen as a win for Hooda, who despite openly criticising the party last month in his home turf Rohtak, managed to get his bête noire Ashok Tanwar removed as the chief of Haryana Congress. His appointment as the CLP leader gets him the power to decide the poll candidates as well.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi decided to transfer the baton to Selja from Dalit leader Tanwar keeping in mind the sizeable Dalit population
(about 20 per cent) in Haryana. According to party sources, Hooda’s supporters wanted him as Haryana chief but the party settled with Selja, considered close to Sonia, in order not to upset the caste equation ahead of the elections.
Selja, a minister in the UPA government, is a sitting Rajya Sabha MP. “The party has put a huge responsibility on my shoulders. All of us will have to work together,’’ she said.
Hooda’s appointment makes him the de facto chief ministerial candidate of the party “I respect the party’s decision,’’ the ex-Haryana CM said.
AICC Haryana incharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters that a new beginning had been made with the appointments. “If the party had lost direction, he (Hooda) can bring it on the right path. It is a late decision, but better late than never. Both Selja and Hooda will work to strengthen to party in the state ahead of the Assembly elections,” he asserted.