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Does Bhupinder Hooda’s rebellion show Congress party’s disintegration has truly begun?

Former Haryana CM and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda Sunday said his party has lost its way as he supported the Narendra Modi government’s move to abrogate Article 370.

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Former Haryana CM and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda Sunday said his party has lost its way as he supported the Narendra Modi government’s move to abrogate Article 370. Hooda’s open rebellion coincides with several other Congress leaders backing the BJP on Article 370 even as the Congress grapples with a leadership crisis.

ThePrint asks: Does Bhupinder Hooda’s rebellion show Congress party’s disintegration has truly begun?

Congress was aware of Hooda’s Rohtak rally and wasn’t surprised by what he said there

Madhu Goud Yashki 
National Secretary & Spokesperson, Congress Party

Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s support to the Narendra Modi government over abrogation of Article 370 is not a one-off case. Other Congress leaders such as Karan Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia have also extended their support to the government on this issue. In fact, Rahul Gandhi has said that dissenting opinions on this issue are welcome.

There have been three generations of the Hooda family in the Congress and they have been integral to the party. The Congress too has also looked after them well. Bhupinder Singh Hooda is a senior leader and the Congress leadership is very much in touch with him. So, there is absolutely no ‘crisis situation’ in the party.

The Congress leadership was aware about the Rohtak rally he was holding and was not surprised by anything he said there. There is nothing serious or alarming about his comments. The entire party is currently busy with its former leader and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s 75th birthday celebrations and Hooda is very much a part of these preparations.

Also read: Maharashtra Congress ready with ‘Pol Khol Yatra’ to counter BJP rally, but dissent brews

This Congress is very different from the Congress that participated in freedom struggle

Former BJD leader Jay PandaBaijayant Jay Panda
Vice President & Spokesperson, BJP

Many senior Congress leaders have spoken out in support of the abrogation of Article 370. This indicates that now it has become too much for the party’s leaders to conform to its diktat – the Congress is opposing a historic decision, which is in national interest.

It is good to see so many Congress leaders following their conscience and not toeing the party line, irrespective of the consequences.

This Congress is very different from the Congress that had participated in the freedom struggle. Today, its views on some issues are more in line with Pakistan’s than with Indians.

The Congress’ stand is out of touch with people’s mood and national interest. That’s why it seems to have lost hope – not just to come back to power but even play the role of a responsible opposition.

For Hooda, rebellion makes sense because he will have better prospects if he forms his own party

Rahul Verma
Fellow at Centre for Policy Research

The Congress party has seen far too many desertions across the country in the past five years. In fact, even in Haryana, two former strong Congress leaders — Rao Inderjit Singh and Chaudhary Birender Singh – are now with the BJP.

So Hooda threatening to quit the Congress is not the most important news. What is interesting about Hooda’s rebellion, however, is that he is using the nationalism plank to express his displeasure with the party. He said that he supports the Narendra Modi government on the abrogation of Article 370 and not his own party’s stand on the issue. The nationalism plank has the potential to create vertical divides in many state units of the Congress (as well as with some state-level regional parties).

Let there be no doubt that Hooda’s rebellion is primarily about the leadership struggle with the president of Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee Ashok Tanwar. Hooda declared Sunday that he would like to be the chief ministerial candidate with or without the Congress’ backing. It is very evident that there is a tussle here.

From Hooda’s own perspective, his rebellion makes sense. The way the electoral game in Haryana is currently stacked, Hooda will have better prospects in state politics if he forms his own party. If Hooda quits, he will take a large chunk of the party along with him and the Congress will be reduced to a minor player in Haryana. And this should worry the Congress as it may have a spill-over effect — most likely in Jharkhand as well as in Maharashtra. Both these states will be going to polls later this year along with Haryana.

Hooda’s rebellion an early but loud warning to Congress leadership, particularly the Gandhis

Rasheed Kidwai
ORF Visiting Fellow and author of Sonia, a Biography and 24 Akbar Road

Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s rebellion is an early but a loud warning to the Congress leadership, particularly the Gandhis. All is not lost vis- a-vis the Hoodas and Haryana as the Jat leader has served a notice of sorts and not snapped ties with the parent organisation. Now it is up to Sonia Gandhi’s acumen to accommodate Hooda in Haryana politics. The party also needs to come up with a more nuanced stand on Article 370, given many of its leaders have supported the BJP government’s move.

Dissent is the soul of democracy. Congress leader Sonia Gandhi herself noted this during the 2013 Shimla conclave and again in March last year when she said that democracy allows space for dissent and debate and not just monologues. Hooda’s critical remarks should not be misconstrued as anti-party or breach of discipline. If the Congress conducts an informal headcount over Modi government’s move in Kashmir, it may find that majority of its cadre is against the continuation of Article 370.

The Congress desperately needs to have some semblance of internal party democracy in matters such as the choice of leader leading the campaign in election-bound state(s). The old high command culture is tottering and Sonia is acting as a prisoner of the past, leaving the Congress to face the risk of disintegration. The party leaders should also wake up to the reality of regional satraps and learn to coexist than look for a Delhi-blessed appointee.

Also read: Hooda sounds bugle of revolt, says Congress has gone astray but doesn’t quit party

It’s not the first time a Congress leader is threatening to quit and it won’t be the last

Shivam Vij
Contributing Editor, ThePrint

Declare me the Congress face in Haryana or I quit, goes the open threat of Bhupinder Singh Hooda. If history offers us any lesson, it is that the Congress won’t give in to blackmail. The party is not confident of winning Haryana or any other state for that matter until 2021 when Kerala goes to polls.

This is not the first time a Congress leader is threatening to quit due to a factional tussle and it certainly won’t be the last. Regional leaders feel inclined to quit the party when the party is no longer an asset for them. Bhupinder Singh Hooda knows that the Congress symbol or the Nehru-Gandhi family name is not going to help him win this election.

Even if the Congress party were to replace Ashok Tanwar with Bhupinder Singh Hooda as Haryana Congress chief, the problem won’t go away. The party leaders will continue to blackmail the high command. It will be my way or the highway for many of them. The centre can no longer hold.

This is why Hooda’s open rebellion is a sign of things to come. Senior leaders and ordinary workers alike will jump ship across the board. They may not do so immediately, and the BJP may take its own time accommodating them, but it will happen for sure. The party is over.

By Revathi Krishnan and Taran Deol

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  1. A very obvious fact shown by the bank Balances. Kamraj Nader, we are told, had Rs,,10 in his shirt pocket at his death. That is called Nationalism. Not danda,jhanda and khaki pants,

  2. The rally was less about criticising the ruling BJP and more about positioning himself. Hooda said he would introduce a legislation similar to that in Andhra Pradesh – to reserve 75 per cent jobs for locals in the private sector. He also promised a fixed monthly income of Rs 2,000 for ‘poor women’ and free electricity of up to 300 units for below-poverty line families. To manage the caste equation, he announced the possibility of four deputy chief ministers, if voted to power – one each from the Dalit, Brahmin, and backward class communities, and one from the rest.

  3. There may be more reasons than meet the eye for Hooda’s present stand. But, what is irrefutably true is that Congress, which plunged the depths in 2014, and repeated the fall in 2019, is set to sink even further.

  4. Mr. Hooda is better placed than any other opposition leader to capture the political landscape which has been vacated due to split in INALO. Haryana s politics had been revolving around personalities of Bansi Lal ,Bhajan Lal Devilal clan. with Devi Lal s son Chautala in Jail and split in the party . Bhajan lal s sons on being always on political journeys from one party to another, Bansi lal s clans inheritors being only one factional leader of Sinking and dying Congress, it is but natural for Hooda to look for new moorings. If he splits the congress and forms new party ” a Bronze Medal ” will be assured.

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