New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Winning 42 out of 288 seats in Maharashtra and 15 out of 90 seats in Haryana, the Congress has fared well in the Assembly elections despite being a divided house after its rout in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Grand Old Party is leading on 47 and 31 seats respectively in the two states.
However, ahead of the Assembly elections, the Congress faced a daunting task of keeping its house in order in both the states after many party workers openly rebelled against the leadership and some even defected from it.
In Maharashtra, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who was also the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, deserted the Congress in June to be appointed Minister of Housing in the Devendra Fadnavis government. Patil contested the Assembly elections on a BJP ticket from Shirdi and has won.
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.