The defeat of Congress candidate Ajay Maken in recently held elections to the Rajya Sabha at the hands of debutant Kartikeya Sharma, has pushed the Congress Party in Haryana in deep trouble. Sharma fought the election as an independent candidate and was backed by the BJP and its ally JJP and some independent legislators. Maken polled 29 votes against 29.6 votes polled by Sharma in a closely fought contest.
The victory of Sharma, also the founder of iTV Network, has embarrassed both the Congress high command and the state leadership, even as the defeat has increased the infighting and widened the rift in the party ranks, according to sources.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Kiran Chaudhary are at
loggerheads over the cancellation of a vote during Rajya Sabha election. The vote cast by a Congress legislator was held invalid and cancelled after the counting, adding to the woes of Hooda as he failed secure victory to the party contestant Maken. Several other leaders in the state, who belong to the opposite faction, and are not on good terms with Hooda are criticizing him directly or indirectly for this failure, which has caused a huge embarrassment to the party.
Apart from this, Hooda and another party leader Chaudhary are not on good terms for a long time. Chaudhary is believed to be upset with Hooda after her daughter’s picture was not published on posters and hoardings recently. She openly asked his son Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda why her daughter’s picture was not added to those posters and hoardings, which led to a ruckus in the party. Besides, another party stalwart Kuldeep Bishnoi cast his vote in favour of Sharma as he was denied the post of state party president by the Congress high command. Bishnoi has been sacked by the party high command for cross-voting. Political grape vine has it that Bishnoi may join the BJP any moment. Some other leaders may choose to stay away from party activities in future.
The RS defeat has also put the spot light on All India Congress Committee General Secretary and in charge for Haryana affairs Vivek Bansal, as he could not identify the party MLA who voted wrongly in the Rajya Sabha elections, resulting in a cancelled vote. This helped independent candidate Sharma to win. Bansal was the election agent during the polls and all legislators had to cast their votes in front of him. So it was his duty to recognise the party MLA who cast his vote wrongly.
To add to Congress’s woes in the state, several local leaders have refused to contest the civic polls on party symbol, further weakening the party in the state.