The top leadership of the Congress seems to have bowed down to former Haryana Chief Minister, BS Hooda as the party has reportedly appointed Kumari Selja as the new president of the Haryana unit of the Congress. Hooda has been appointed as in charge of the election committee and the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, replacing Kiran Chaudhary. It must be noted that this does not look like a routine change in guard, but a well thought out political manouevour.
Appointment of Kumari Selja as the president of the Haryana unit is being seen as a setback for Ashok Tanwar, who has been replaced by the former. It is important to understand the kind of equation shared by Tanwar and Hooda in order to understand the move taken by the grand old party in the right perspective. As per a 2017 report by ThePrint, Tanwar and Hooda have been engaged in an acrimonious relationship for quite some time. Tanwar had become the president of the Haryana unit of the grand old party in February 2014. As per the said report, Hooda had been eyeing the top post occupied by Tanwar. Things took a turn for the worse in October 2016, when supporters of Hooda’s and Tanwar’s factions got involved in a violent clash, while waiting for Rahul Gandhi in Delhi, leaving Tanwar injured. The grand old party then witnessed mudslinging between the two factions as Kiran Chaudhary and Ashok Tanwar blamed BS Hooda for the class, while Hooda and 12 other MLAs demanded the removal of Tanwar. It became clear that two factions had emerged within the party and the state unit was no longer a cohesive unit. While Tanwar occupied the top post, Hooda enjoyed the support of a vast majority of the party MLAs in the state.
The crisis within the Congress as far as the state of Haryana is concerned escalated after reports emerged about Hooda parting his ways with the Congress. First indications came after posters of “workers conference” which was to be held on August 4 had photographs of Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son Deepender Singh Hooda. These posters were flooded on social media, without the Gandhi family, which, otherwise has always been there in all Congress pamphlets and posters. Some other news reports suggested that Hooda was on the verge of rebellion. He also held a Maha Parivartan rally in Rohtak, where he said, “It is not the old Congress which it used to be. It has wandered off. I have welcomed abrogation of Article 370 as the nation comes first. There are many Haryana residents in the army.” It must be noted that the top leadership of the Congress has been critical of the government’s recent move on Kashmir and in such a situation Hooda’s support for abrogation of Article 370 must have come as a shocker for the grand old party. As per India Today, the strategy behind Hooda’s Parivartan rally was to make the Congress realise that he still holds sway and that he cannot be ignored. 13 out of 16 Congress MLAs were present at the rally making it a show of strength.
It can be said that the top brass of the Congress has bought peace with Hooda in order to avert a rebellion in the Haryana unit that looked inevitable at one point of time. With Sonia Gandhi at the helm of affairs, this makes even more sense as it is only natural for the old guard to favour the old guard.