Need to decide on leadership quickly; Rahul must stay on, says Bhupinder Singh Hooda

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s offer of resignation after the Lok Sabha election debacle has left the party in a vulnerable position, according to former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. In an exclusive interview to
ET, a day ahead of Haryana state coordination committee’s crucial meeting with Gandhi, Hooda talks on how the party needs to reorganise the state unit to be battle-ready for the forthcoming Assembly polls. Excerpts:

On Rahul Gandhi’s decision to resign

The party has been left in the lurch. There has to be a decision on the leadership soon, one way or the other. It does not send the right signal to party members. I don’t think it will continue for too long. A call will be taken soon and Rahul ji should stay on.

On Congress’ preparedness for state polls
There is an urgent need to reorganise the party in Haryana. The Congress leadership needs to take a call on leadership – this way or that – but quickly. There are no district committees. There is no organisation at the village or block level. No work has been done in the party over the last five years. We need to restructure and reorganise now to fight the forthcoming elections.

On ‘in-fighting’ in Haryana Congress

There is no in-fighting in Haryana Congress. There are differences, which are there in all political parties. These are differences which are always sorted and we fight together. You think leaders don’t fight in BJP? They also fight, but one leader, like Modi, unites them.

On Congress being seen as a Jat-dominated party in Haryana

There is no such notion among people. It is divisive forces that are working overtime to create such an impression. You think only Jats voted for us in Haryana, and non-Jats did not? It was nothing like that. All chhattis biradaris (36 communities) voted for Congress. What about Delhi in 2015? There are no Jats or non-Jats, why was the Congress routed?

On his reluctance to contest the Lok Sabha election and the loss

No, my loss does not send a wrong signal of any sort. I have contested several elections. My family has been involved in the political process since the 1920s. We have seen electoral losses and victories – it should be taken with equanimity of emotion.

On the Modi wave

Nobody could see the Modi wave. Nobody thought Congress candidates would lose by 5-6 lakh votes. It happened everywhere. In Haryana, Rajasthan, all of north India. In Haryana, BJP candidates were driven out by villagers, but even they won. People voted for Modi and not the candidate.

On the impact of Modi in Haryana polls

Assembly elections are fought differently. It is always local factors that outweigh national factors. How else do you explain that we formed the government in Rajasthan three months before the Lok Sabha polls and then were routed in the Lok Sabha election? What about Odisha, the elections took place together. The electorate voted for Modi at the Centre, but in Assembly elections again chose Naveen Patnaik. They entered the booth and voted for two different parties.

On nationalism as a factor in state poll

Nationalism, or really pseudo-nationalism, worked in the Lok Sabha election. Assembly elections are fought on local factors. It will be nothing but governance of Haryana. The Manohar Lal Khattar government has failed completely and people know that.

On government jobs by Khattar

There has been widespread corruption in giving government jobs. The unrest caused by question paper leaks cannot be gauged sitting in Delhi. How can you first suspend Haryana Staff Selection Commission chairman and then revoke suspension and make him oversee the same process?

On possibility of alliance with AAP or JJP in Haryana

Why an alliance? BJP and Congress are the major political players in Haryana. No alliance would have helped us in Lok Sabha polls, or will help us in Assembly elections. AAP or JJP or INLD are all small players. BSP has some vote share, which we acknowledge.

via ET

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