Prepare for state polls, says Rahul

Calls meeting of warring Cong factions in Haryana

As dissidents raise their heads in the Congress after its rout in the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday summoned a meeting of leaders from Haryana to bring peace to the party unit in the state, which goes to polls later in the year.

Gandhi brought the warring factions – Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, senior leaders Kumari Selja and Birendra Singh Chaudhary – at the same table in his efforts to restore order.

The present Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar and AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed were also present.

Former union minister and a prominent Dalit leader Selja had demanded the resignation of Hooda, as Congress managed to win just one seat of the 11 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana.

The blunt message of Rahul to the warring leaders was to shun factionalism and prepare for the coming assembly elections.

Conflict in Maharashtra

Maharashtra is another key state which has been witnessing dissidence with a number of legislators demanding Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to step down.However, a senior Congress leader said that change was unlikely in both the states where elections are due in September-October.

No alternative

The leader contended that there was no alternative to Chavan and Hooda as the Congress is in coalition in Maharashtra and the Haryana government is propped up by independents loyal to the Chief Minister.

In Maharashtra, the state unit chief Manikrao Thakre has been in the post for the past seven years and there were demands from a section of the state leaders to replace him. They said this would send a message to the demoralised workers in the state.

A section of the leadership feels that any change in the state would not change the certainty of defeat of the Congress in Maharashtra and the party has to face the inevitable.

There have been demands from the state unit to make former home minister Sushilkumar Shinde as the Maharashtra Congress chief, a move that could spur the “indecisive” chief minister into action.

In Haryana, there could be no action against Tanwar who was appointed as the state unit chief in February.

“The Lok Sabha poll outcome can hardly be seen as a comment on his performance,” another senior leader said.

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