Bhupinder Singh Hooda
Bhupinder Singh Hooda

New Delhi: Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has declared himself as the chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming Assembly elections in a mega rally held at Rohtak on Sunday, without any approval of the Congress leadership.

Instead of quitting the Congress and floating a regional party, he chose to set up a 25-member committee, including 12 Congress MLAs, to decide the future course of action by his faction.

This is a clear challenge to the Congress leadership refusing to concede his demand to make him or his ex-MP Deepender Hooda as the state Congress President in place of Dalit leader Ashok Tanwar, a Rahul Gandhi appointee.

There was no official reaction to his virtual revolt against the Congress leadership, though the party sources said irrespective of whether he quits the Congress or not, he has burnt the boats in the party as Congress President Sonia Gandhi does not yield to such a blackmail.

His remark on Article 370 against the Congress stand itself is sufficient to expel him from the party but the decision will be taken at appropriate time, the sources said.

In the rally, he had said: "Four generations of my family have been in the Congress. My grandfather and father were freedom fighters. I cannot compromise with patriotism and hence I endorsed the scrapping of Article 370, but my party lost its way over the issue (mery party bhatak gayee)."

He would have been projected as the CM candidate but, neither he nor his son will become the state party chief, the sources said, stressing that Sonia decided to act tough against him.

They pointed out that his declaration of the poll promises in the rally itself amounts to indiscipline since these were not approved in any party meeting.

Hooda declared a slew of poll promises in the rally that included raising the old age pension to Rs 5000 per month, waiver of farmers’ loans and restoring their pension scheme, provide Rs 2000 per month and wheat and rice at Rs 2 per kg to women in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category, free travel to women in the Haryana Roadways buses, free electricity up to 300 units to the BPL families and recruitment of 50,000 sanitary workers.

He even talked of having four deputy chief ministers, including one each from Scheduled Caste, OBC and a Brahmin.

Indiscipline, says Haryana Cong chief

Haryana Congress President Ashok Tanwar on Monday slammed his arch rival and former chief minister Bhupinder Hooda for backing the Modi government on nullification of Article 370. He said Hooda has committed "indiscipline" by speaking against the Congress stand approved by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest policy-making body of the party. He said he has brought this to the notice of the party leadership.

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