New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Ahead of the Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, the Congress faced a daunting task of keeping its house in order following a number of party workers defecting the party and some openly rebelling against the leadership after the rout in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, the grand old party has fared well in the Assembly polls in both the states.
In Maharashtra, several Congress MLAs had quit the party starting June this year when Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who was also the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, resigned as the Congress MLA.
Patil has now successfully contested the Assembly elections on a BJP ticket from Shirdi.
After Patil, MLA Abdul Sattar left the Congress to join the Shiv Sena. He contested the Assembly elections from Sillod constituency and has won.
Former Congress minister Kripa Shankar Singh quit the party but hasn’t contested the elections.
The Congress also faced a tough job of keeping dissenters in the party from speaking out against the party line. Senior party leader and former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora favoured the BJP government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. Another former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam openly criticised Deora’s comments and brought their differences to the fore. Both Deora and Nirupam also stayed away from former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s rallies in the state.
In Haryana, weeks before the polls, Kumari Selja replaced Ashok Tanwar as Congress’ state chief and his bete noire former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was made the Congress Legislature Party leader.
The infighting in Congress’ Haryana unit reached the doorstep of party’s interim President Sonia Gandhi when Tanwar and his supporters started protesting the decision but also alleging corruption in distribution of Haryana tickets outside her home in Delhi. Three days later, Tanwar resigned from the primary membership of the party.
Devender Singh Babli, a close confidante of Tanwar, also quit the party and contested as a Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) candidate from Tohana Assembly seat and defeated BJP state unit chief Subhash Barala.
On October 12, just nine days before the polls, Selja expelled 16 people from the party for contesting as “rebels” against its official nominees.
Those expelled among others, included former MP Ranjit Singh, former minister Nirmal Singh, former Haryana Legislative Assembly deputy speaker Azad Mohmmad and former chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Zile Ram Sharma.