Less than 20 days before the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections, the Congress suffered a setback with politicians openly speaking against alleged corruption in the party's ticket allocation, which points to deepening fissures within the Grand Old Party.
Addressing the media on Friday, former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam alleged that close associates of interim party president Sonia Gandhi were being "biased".
#NewsAlert - @sanjaynirupam lashes out at Congress Top brass, says 'People working closely with Sonia Gandhi are biased. If I am going to be targeted this way in the future then I will have no other choice but to quit the party'.@_pallavighosh with details. #CongMeinPhoot pic.twitter.com/P4E8dmgU0T
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 4, 2019
Mining a deep vein of dissatisfaction, Nirupam blamed the "faulty" Congress hierarchy structure, which could further bring trouble for the party.
Earlier on Thursday, Nirupam said he would not participate in poll campaigning after his recommendations to the party for Assembly polls fell flat.
Speaking critically of the party, Nirupam tweeted, "It seems Congress party doesn’t want my services anymore. I had recommended just one name in Mumbai for the Assembly election. Heard that even that has been rejected. As I had told the leadership earlier, in that case I will not participate in the poll campaign."
However, the former Mumbai Congress chief did not specify the name of the candidate he was pushing for.
Nirupam also hinted at being forced to resign over the treatment meted out to him by the party leadership.
I hope that the day has not yet come to say good bye to party. But the way leadership is behaving with me, it doesn’t seem far away. https://t.co/B07biJWp5M
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) October 3, 2019
Speaking to CNN-News18, he said, "Being a senior member of the Congress party, I deserve some respect. I only suggested one name for the Maharashtra assembly polls, that too was rejected. Three lists have been released till now, I had already told the senior leadership that if that name is not given the ticket, I won't be taking part in the election campaign. If this is indiscipline, the party can take action against me".
The party announced a list of 20 candidates on Thursday, which featured the names of Siddharam Mhetre from Akalkot and Aslam Sheikh from Malad West, both of whom considered joining the BJP on 30 September.
Miffed by the party's decision, some Congress leaders want to put a "premium on loyalty".
The Economic Times quoted a Congress leader, however, on the condition of anonymity, "This is the difference between Congress and BJP; would the BJP have given tickets to someone who till two days back was trying to join the rival party? The party should put a premium on loyalty."
Apart from Nirupam, former Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar accused the party of disregarding interests of grassroot workers who have worked tirelessly in the last five elections.
Tanwar, who was replaced as state party chief in September, on Thursday announced his resignation from all party posts in various committees. While addressing a press conference, he also displayed the resignation letter that he sent to Sonia Gandhi and said he would however continue as an ordinary party worker.
Alleging that the Congress in Haryana has turned into "Hooda Congress" and is centered on the concept of political dynasties, Tanwar said that many contenders who stood a chance to win were denied tickets and suffered due to "groupism".
"Few with vested interests cannot tolerate the emergence of new leadership in Haryana. I have written a letter to interim party president Sonia Gandhi asking her to relieve me of all responsibilities and from the committees in which I have been assigned responsibilities. I will work for strengthening the party as its primary member," Tanwar told the media in Delhi.
The squabble between the factions led by Tanwar and the two-time chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda intensified after the release of Congress list for the Haryana Assembly polls. Tanwar claimed that his list of 15 candidates was rejected by "people who want to destroy the Congress". He accused Hooda of denying tickets to people who were efficient on ground level.
The infighting within the party also reached the doorstep of Sonia on Wednesday after Tanwar and his supporters staged a protest outside her 10 Janpath residence, raising slogans against Hooda.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 15, 2019 13:10:44 IST