CHANDIGARH: Factionalism continues to haunt the Congress after former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the most powerful Jat leader in the state, was appointed the new leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) as well as the chairman of the Haryana Election Management Committee, making him the de facto chief ministerial candidate of the party.
The Congress is silent on the future of former state unit chief Ashok Tanwar and former CLP leader Kiran Chaudhary. Aides of Tanwar are seeking his reinstatement as state president or his inclusion in the Central Election Committee which will take a final decision on the allotment of tickets to candidates. Meanwhile, Chaudhary preferred to adopt a wait and watch policy after meeting her supporters at her Delhi residence.
"This change may be too late as the party which is faction-ridden in the state has hardly any organizational structure as the district and block units have been headless for long," said a senior leader.
Sources said that the party took this decision as the ruling BJP is concentrating on the non-Jat vote bank, while the Jat community, which is the dominant vote bank constituting 25 percent of the total electorate, was likely to move towards the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the newly formed JJP as both parties are headed by Jat leaders. By making Hooda the CLP chief, the party hopes to woo this vote bank as he enjoys their support more than ex-CLP leader Kiran Chaudhary who is also a Jat.
Sources close to Hooda said that in 2005 when he became the Chief Minister, he was not named the CM candidate. It is learnt that Hooda will have a decisive role in deciding whom to be given party tickets. This decision by the high command marks a victory for the Hooda camp, which had been seeking the replacement of Tanwar and a decisive role for Hooda.