The ‘Chintan Shivir’ called by Haryana Congress to discuss the strategy to reach out to people over several “burning issues”, including inflation, unemployment, law and order, ended up being a show of strength for former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda with his detractors either not attending the session or not being invited to it.
During a day-long brainstorming session, senior party leaders resolved to oust the “non-performing” BJP-JJP government from power in the 2024 assembly polls and form the government under the leadership of Hooda.
On his part, Hooda, who is also the Leader of the Opposition, said that he is fully prepared for the struggle for change and that he accepts with all humility the responsibility the Congress has entrusted to him. He said if Congress comes to power in Haryana, all senior citizens of the state will get a monthly pension of Rs 6,000, and announced that 300 units of free electricity and free plots of 100 yards will be given to poor families. He also supported the demand for a caste census and said the limit of creamy layer will be increased from Rs 6 lakh to 10 lakh if the Congress government is formed.
While the party sought to present a united face by inviting all the MLAs and several former MPS and legislators, Hooda’s detractors including Randeep Surjewala, Kiran Choudhry and Kumari Selja remained absent while rebel MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi was not invited. AICC in-charge for Haryana, Vivek Bansal, too was not invited to the event, Hooda’s close aide and state party chief Udai Bhan pledged to create a cadre base at the ground-level before August 20, and announced several programmes that the Congress would be conducting across state to attack the ruling coalition.
Bhan downplayed the absence of Hooda’s detractors. “Surjewala is in the US for treatment. Kumari Selja called me this morning and cited personal reasons for not being able to attend the event. Kiran Choudhry and Shruti Choudhry had some engagements in her constituency. A few working presidents of HPCC were been able to attend the event due to personal reasons,” said Bhan.
Asked if no invitation to Bansal was an indication that he may be removed from the post in the coming days, Bhan said, “It is party’s internal matter and it is AICC’s prerogative”.
At the ‘Chintan Shivir’ senior leader Raghuvir Singh Kadian put up a resolution on agri-related issues and said the government should fix minimum support price (MSP) under the C2 formula (50 per cent profit over the input cost) as suggested by the Swaminathan Commission. The party also demanded that farmers should be given legal guarantee on MSP.
Dabwali MLA Amit Sihag gave suggestions on how the party should formulate strategy to improve the condition of farmers and labourers, while Mahendragarh MLA Rao Dan Singh put up a resolution on economic matters and said the state’s debt was mounting while investments and jobs were going down. Dhan Singh claimed that Haryana currently faces a debt of Rs 3 lakh crore while the state’s unemployment rate was over 30 per cent.
Geeta Bhukkal alleged that Dalits and backward classes are being “ignored” under the present BJP-led government.
MLA Jagbir Malik put up a resolution on alleged deteriorating law and order situation in the state. He said even MLAs are facing threats and no one is feeling safe and also mentioned about the killing of DSP rank officer in Nuh recently.
Shamsher Gogi demanded a high-level independent agency probe into illegal mining in Haryana. Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda shared details about his Bhan’s recent tour of Faridabad and several other constituencies of Haryana. He claimed that Congress party was getting immense response. Quoting 2019 Assembly poll figures, Deepender claimed that BJP could win only 12 out of 23 seats in northern Haryana and said Congress should put up a strong fight in the upcoming polls so that BJP could be completely wiped out of this part.
He also took a dig at Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala led JJP and accused it of “cheating the electorate” by joining hands with the BJP.
Bhan said the party leadership is determined and committed to oust the BJP-JJP coalition government from power and asserted that they would not rest till the Congress forms the next government in the state.
The Haryana Congress’ organisational structure would be declared soon “and our effort would be to ensure that all active workers of the party are given some responsibility in the organisaton,” said Bhan.
“Congress is the party that helped the country get its Constitution. The responsibility of protecting it also lies with the party. Party workers have to go among the people with this responsibility. Congress will have to answer the pseudo-nationalism of the BJP through the spirit of brotherhood by uniting the country,” said Bhan.
On August 5, demonstrations will be held against rising inflation in district headquarters and Chandigarh, he said.
Congress leaders said that ‘Azadi Gaurav Yatra’ will be held from August 9 to 15 in every district of Haryana, while workers’ conferences will be held in September-October in all 22 districts of the state.
The ‘Haryana Bachao Abhiyan’ will start from November 1. Under this, there will be public meetings of the Congress in all the 90 assembly circles of Haryana, the leaders said.
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Meanwhile, rival parties took a dig at the ‘Chintan Shivir’, with Haryana minister and senior BJP leader Kanwar Pal saying the main opposition party should first set their house in order.
“Everyone knows Congress is a divided house and there is groupism in its state unit,” Pal said. INLD state unit president Nafe Singh Rathi said “everyone knows that Haryana Congress has split into six to seven groups and different leaders are pulling their own strings, so such Shivirs will not yield anything for them”.