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BS Hooda as CLP Leader is Cong's De Facto Haryana CM Face; Kumari Selja Named State Unit Chief

Selja replaces Ashok Tanwar as the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief.


Updated:September 4, 2019, 11:20 PM IST
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BS Hooda as CLP Leader is Cong's De Facto Haryana CM Face; Kumari Selja Named State Unit Chief
File photo of Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

New Delhi: After months of brinkmanship, the Congress on Wednesday sought to end the issue of leadership for the upcoming Assembly polls in Haryana by naming former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda as leader of its legislature party and chief of election management committee.

Former minister Kumari Selja was appointed the party’s state unit chief, replacing Ashok Tanwar who has had a running battle with Hooda since his appointment. Considered close to former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Tanwar will be succeeded by Selja, a Gandhi family loyalist and the party’s Dalit face in Haryana.

Hooda’s appointment makes him the de facto chief ministerial candidate of the party. The former chief minister had been pushing for a larger role for himself in the state unit and had held a series of meeting with his loyalists over the last month, almost putting the party high command on notice.

“It is a huge responsibility on my shoulders, all of us will have to work together. We are committed to the party's ideology," Selja told News18.

Thanking Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the responsibility, Hooda said, “The party has taken a decision, I respect it.”

The choice of leadership for the upcoming polls indicates Congress attempting to stitch its traditional Jat-Dalit-minority combination in the state when the BJP seems to be consolidating its hold on non-Jat communities under incumbent chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

The move comes after days of deliberations by Sonia Gandhi and is seen as an attempt to pacify the different factions ahead of the polls, likely to take place next month.

The announcement came a day after a 35-member committee formed by Hooda met and passed a resolution authorising him to take a decision on the future of the state leadership.

In the 2014 Assembly polls, the BJP won 47 seats and went on to form its government. The Congress could only win 15 seats. The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) had 19 legislators. Since then, the INLD has split into two factions.

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