Factional fight in Cong heats up as Tanwar quits
New Delhi: Former Haryana PCC chief Ashok Tanwar’s public revolt over being sidelined culminated on Saturday with the Dalit leader quitting the party, as a faction-ridden Congress’ troubles in poll-bound Haryana and Maharashtra deepened with senior party leaders defying the leadership.
Following a spate of protests and allegations of corruption in ticket distribution, Tanwar quit Congress, attributing his departure to a deep crisis in the party triggered by internal contradictions and warring factions rather than political opponents. Tanwar lashed out at Haryana in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad and former CM Bhupinder Hooda for “destruction” of the party and alleged that Azad had given tickets to “defectors and non-Congressmen”.
“In the last few years, numerous conspiracies are being hatched to eliminate those young leaders who have been groomed by Rahul Gandhi in the last one-and-ahalf decades. Unfortunately, most victims of this conspiracy may not have the courage to stand up, but I think it is my moral and political duty to resist, oppose and expose this onslaught,” he wrote in his letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Former Maharashtra Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam has also claimed that Rahul’s nominees were being sidelined. He has pulled out of the campaign alleging that AICC general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge had turned a blind eye to his suggestions on ticket distribution. He was himself keen to contest. In turn, Congress accused Nirupam of speaking up only when his candidates did not make the cut.
The trouble has laid bare a old and new guard divide. Tanwar and Nirupam were seen as Rahul Gandhi’s choices, while senior leaders who have worked with Sonia Gandhi are seen to be more comfortable with the appointment of former minister Selja as Haryana PCC chief and Hooda as head of campaign.
Hooda appears practically in control of party matters after burying the hatchet with Selja. “The leadership knows this election is not going to yield much for Congress. So, Hooda is rewarding loyalty and singling out those who worked against him,” a senior leader upset with candidate selection said.
The state leadership claimed it is unfazed by Tanwar’s resignation. “I’ve always said organisation is bigger than individuals and while individuals come and go, organisation stays. If Tanwar has decided to quit, it is his call,” Selja said.
The chaos caused by the internal power struggles, however, have further dimmed Congress’ already bleak prospects in the 90-seater Haryana assembly, where alliance talks have come a cropper and party leaders have turned rebel after being denied tickets.
Haryana Congress ex-president Ashok Tanwar slammed Ghulam Nabi Azad and Bhupinder Hooda for ‘destruction’ of the party