Amidst the intensifying election season in Haryana, Randeep Singh Surjewala is seen taking a seperate path from veteran Bhupinder Singh Hooda within the Haryana Congress.
While he remains absent from official Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) events, Surjewala, along with fellow party leaders Kumari Selja and Kiran Choudhry, often organise separate protest marches and press conferences against the Manohar Lal Khattar government.
Surjewala's rivalry with Hooda is widely known, and he has revealed to The Indian Express that he is rarely invited to any PCC programmes.
He also mentioned that the only time he received an invitation was for a meeting called by the party in charge of Haryana, Deepak Babaria.
Additionally, Surjewala emphasised the importance for the Congress to include all "committed" party members, who currently feel unheard within the party structure, as they prepare for the 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
Despite facing consecutive losses in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Haryana, Surjewala's political trajectory has recently been on the rise.
His instrumental role as Congress state-in-charge in the party's impressive victory in Karnataka has boosted his profile.
Furthermore, the Congress has appointed him as the observer for Madhya Pradesh, another crucial state where elections are approaching and the party stands a chance of winning.
Surjewala acknowledges that he has no issue with the Congress appointing individuals who were previously associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Lok Dal.
However, he expresses concern that the original Congress workers who have been dedicated to the party are feeling neglected and are lacking political representation.
He believes that their voices also need to be heard.
According to Surjewala, the party should focus on raising important issues rather than solely catering to the personal ambitions of leaders who desire specific positions.
He also stressed the significance of addressing matters concerning the SCs, backward classes, and the urban population, as they make up a significant portion of the Haryana voters.
Surjewala believes that these sections of the population, who have been deceived by the Khattar led BJP-Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) government, need to be brought back to Congress.
To achieve this, the party's politics should be centred around issues, aligned with the Congress ideology, and driven by grassroots agitation, he added.
While speaking about his relations with Hooda, Surjewala has stated that “We have no personal grudge with either Hooda or anybody else. We believe that it will take the entire Congress to bring the party back to power… not just a section alone. Politics in Haryana has to be ideology-driven, issue-based, agitation-oriented rather than personality-centric. And, that also includes me.”
Surjewala, Choudhry, and Selja's potential candidacies are being seen as an alternative to Hooda.
Surjewala also dismissed the Opposition's claims of factionalism within the Congress, pointing out that it is the BJP that is divided.
In response he highlighted the well-known discontent among many MLAs and ministers against Chief Minister Khattar, as well as the ongoing conflict between Khattar's party and Dushyant Chautala's JJP.
Surjewala has also clarified that the Congress is united and solely focused on addressing the concerns of the people to the best of their abilities.
When asked about the possibility of the Congress party naming Hooda as their chief ministerial candidate in 2024, Surjewala simply emphasised his unwavering loyalty to the party and its ideology.
Surjewala recalls a similar situation in 2005 when Bhajan Lal staked his claim, but the party ultimately chose Hooda, and everyone, including Surjewala himself, supported this decision. Their commitment lies in doing what is in the best interest of the Congress party, he maintained.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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