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Kamal Nath begins setting Congress house in order in Haryana

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 6 July 2016, 21:36 IST
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A new beginning
  • Kamal Nath has taken over as Congress in-charge for Haryana
  • The party is divided into 2 factions, led by Bhunpinder Singh Hooda and Ashok Tanwar
More in the story
  • What are the challenges Nath faces?
  • What does he have to say?

Having recently taken over as the party in-charge for Haryana, senior Congress leader Kamal Nath has his hands full as he goes about setting the house in order in the state. Nath has multiple challenges at hand. He has made it clear that the party needs a revamp right till the block level in the state.

Challenges

In his first meeting with the state executive members at Chandigarh he got a taste of the massive infighting in the party. On one side is the group led by the party president Ashok Tanwar and Congress Legislative Party (CLP) Kiran Chaudhary and on the other is the faction led by the former chief minister and Jat heavyweight Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

"I met both Ashok Tanwar and Hooda separately at length but they did not say anything about each other. There is very little factionalism in our party. It is more of a lack of coordination," said Nath after the meeting. Sources revealed that while the two leaders did not directly say anything about each other, it was left to their supporters to trade charges.

The party workers pointed to the photographs of Hooda missing from the banners and hoardings put up at the venue. They also pointed that even at party programmes the supporters of different camps can be differentiated from the different colours of their turbans.

Reports say that it was conveyed to Nath by some of the senior functionaries that the recent developments regarding the BJP government in the state led by Manohar Lal Khattar lodging cases against Hooda should not be taken lightly.

Even the Congress workers accept that the party needs an attitudinal change in its rank and file. "Gone are the days when we used to win just by default. That was the time of bi-polar politics when our straight fight was with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Now we also have to contend with the BJP which has emerged very strong recently. The party needs to retain and also expand its base in the heartland," said a senior party worker standing outside the meeting venue.

Also read - The Kamal Nath episode shows how Congress is adept at axing its own foot

Nath himself has announced a revamp of the party at the grassroots. He said, "The party would re-constitute all the district and block Congress committees within the next six months after due consultations with the local leaders. The frontal organisations like the Sewa Dal and others would also be revamped and given more responsibility."

The issue of the recent Rajya Sabha poll fiasco also came up for an animated discussion at the meeting. Nath said that while the Election Commission is probing the issue of Congress votes going invalid, the party is also conducting a probe at its own level. "Our legislators have been cheated in this election. We are waiting for the Election Commission to finish its probe and come out with its report," he said.

The Rajya Sabha election exposed the rampant factionalism in the Haryana Congress

While the matter remains to be resolved, a large section of the Congress workers are annoyed at the manner in which the matter has been handled by the party. Apart from the reservations on the party supporting an independent backed by the INLD, a large number of the party workers feel that the party legislators should have agitated right at the spot of the polling and should have demanded an instant re-poll. "They should not have allowed the result to have been declared and should have staged a sit in protest right at the spot.

Even in the age of computerisation we are still making an issue about the colour of the pen used for ticking against the name of a candidate. Does the colour matter if the tick is at the appropriate place? We expect very little to come out of the Election Commission probe. Our strategy should now be to approach the courts for a CBI probe into the matter," a senior functionary told Catch.

Another major challenge before Nath would be to work for the party revival amidst the polarisation that has taken place across the state on the lines of caste following the large scale riots during the Jat reservation stir in February this year. The Jats continue to be alienated from the other 35 communities that stand on the other side. With both the Congress and INLD have a large Jat supporter base, the BJP has managed to make inroads in the remaining communities. The challenge before the Congress now is to gain acceptance as a party that represents the interests of everyone.

Nath in action

Nath has also told the state executive to reach out to the people on the failures of both the Narendra Modi led government in the centre and the Khattar government in the state which is also about to complete two years in office.

He said that all sections of society are disillusioned with these governments. "Youth and farmers are particularly annoyed with the governments at the centre as well as the state. The farmers are in distress and there is no employment for the youth. The government has done very little for them. This puts a great responsibility on the Congress to raise the voice of the people," he said.

Accusing the BJP of indulging in politics of 'event management' at the national level, the senior Congress leader said," People are very smart. They have seen through this politics of advertisement and event management. Even if they are poor, they know that the BJP regime is a government of advertisements for which huge amounts are being doled out to promote themselves."

How Nath sets the party on the track would be visible soon. The party workers are now calling for aggressive campaigns on issues. But that is only possible if the party stands united.

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First published: 6 July 2016, 21:36 IST
 
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