Rohtak: Congress leader and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Sunday supported the Union government’s decision to revoke Article 370 and said that the party has lost its way as it no longer remains what it once stood for.
Hooda’s statements come just months ahead of crucial assembly elections in Haryana amid talks of a possible rebellion by the veteran leader as his supporters have been demanding a leadership change in the state unit.
Senior party leaders say that Hooda’s remarks at a rally in Rohtak on Sunday held as a show of strength is his pitch to the central leadership of the Congress for greater control of the state unit against the backdrop of a rivalry between him and state unit chief Ashok Tanwar, who is known to be close to former party president Rahul Gandhi.
“If the Union government does something right, I appreciate it. When they removed Article 370, a lot of my colleagues opposed it. My party lost its way and is not the Congress that was there before. I will not compromise with anyone when it comes to patriotism and self-respect. On this, I supported (the Centre’s stand on) Article 370," Hooda said at the rally.
Hooda said he will soon announce the formation of a committee in Chandigarh that will include the ‘13 MLAs of the party who have supported him’ and ‘a future course of action’ will be decided based on their proposal.
A divided Congress, which has 16 MLAs in Haryana, faces a tough electoral battle against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
“Hooda has been raising these issues for a while but the high command has not paid much heed. He has the support of 13 MLAs and everyone’s concern is about survival and coming to power. With the change of guard in the central unit, they are now hopeful that a call on what works better for the party will be taken soon," a senior party leader from the state said requesting anonymity.
On 10 August, the Congress Working Committee appointed Sonia Gandhi as the Congress president, replacing Rahul Gandhi who had resigned more than two months ago. Many in the party say this could give more leverage to the old guard, including Hooda in Haryana.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.