Chandigarh: Ending weeks of suspense over the change in the party’s state leadership, the Congress Wednesday appointed former MLA Udai Bhan, a strong loyalist of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, as the president of the Haryana Congress.
Besides, the party also appointed four working presidents, namely, Shruti Choudhry, Ram Kishan Gujjar, Jitender Bhardwaj and Suresh Gupta.
Udai Bhan, 67, a former four-time legislator from Hodal, district Palwal, belongs to scheduled case community like his predecessor Kumari Selja whose resignation had been accepted prior to his appointment.
The appointment of Bhan fulfills a long pending demand from several legislators and leaders of the Hooda camp for a leadership change in the state. A Jat leader and former two-time chief minister Hooda, who is currently the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) and hence the leader of opposition in the state, had been at loggerheads with Selja and seeking a greater say in the decision-making in preparation for the next assembly polls due in October 2024.
Uday Bhan is the son of the late Gaya Lal, whose then defections were said to have inspired the satirical saying about frequent party hoppers - ``Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram’’.
Meanwhile, the appointments of the four working presidents named above appeared to be a bid to strike a caste and power balance in the party’s state unit.
Shruti, who belongs to the Jat community, is the daughter of senior party legislator from Tosham, Kiran Choudhry while Gujjar, a two-time MLA from Naraingarh, is a loyalist of Kumar Selja.
Likewise, Jitender, a Brahmin, a former president of the party Gurugram unit, also belongs to the Hooda camp. Suresh Gupta, who belongs to the Baniya community, who was formerly Karnal district president is said to be close to communication in-charge Randeep Surjewala.
It is pertinent to mention here that the appointments are subsequent to a series of meetings between senior leaders from the state with the party high command in New Delhi during which besides Hooda and Kumari Selja, several other leaders including Hooda’s son Deepender Hooda, four-time legislator and a non-Jat leader Kuldeep Bishnoi, Surjewala and Kiran Choudhry had also met the senior leaders of the party.
Meanwhile, the party high command is also likely to name campaign and manifesto committees office-holders soon so as to prepare early for the Haryana polls.