Congress on Saturday faced an embarrassing rebellion in Haryana as the last-minute revolt by MLAs paved the upset victory of the BJP-backed independent candidate Subhash Chandra.
Chandra, the Zee media chairman, attributed his win to his wide acceptability but the political analysts felt that media tycoon’s election to Rajya Sabha could not have been possible had MLAs loyal to former chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, deliberately not made wrong marking of their ballots.
This apparent deliberate wrong marking made the votes of 12 of the 14 MLAs eligible thereby ensuring the defeat of the party-backed independent candidate R K Anand.
Anand was fielded by the INLD, but the Congress had decided to back him asking its local MLAs to vote for him. That was because of Chandra’s known loyalty to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The mistakes made by Congress MLAs have come under sharp media scrutiny. For example, Hooda, a former chief minister reportedly did not cast his vote.
Others used their own pen to cast his vote despite being fully aware that carrying any stationary items inside the assembly would have made his vote invalid.
Another veteran politician, Randeep Surjewala, allegedly made his vote ineligible by handing over his ballot to Congress leader Kiran Chaudhary even though the party had officially nominated BK Hariprasad for the role.
Given that Surjewala is a senior lawyer, many analysts are finding it hard to believe that he may have made this mistake inadvertently. Surjewala, incidentally, is also the national head of Congress’ communications wing.
The embarrassing revolt by so many senior Congress MLAs have not gone down well with the party supporters. Taking to Twitter, Pawan Khera, former aide to Delhi chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, demanded responsibility be fixed against those who had rebelled during the RS polls.
Calling the development Haryana treachery, Khera asked, “Will responsibility be fixed for the great #HaryanaTreachery?”
While veteran Congress leader and party’s general secretary, Digvijay Singh blamed the government officials for rejecting the Congress MLAs’ votes, sources said that the party may seek explanation from Hooda for Saturday’s fiasco.
Quoting Congress sources, PTI reported that the party was shocked by the behaviour of the 14 MLAs who apparently got their votes invalid by marking the ballot with a wrong pen and would go into the entire issue and fix responsibility.
AICC General Secretary BK Hariprasad said, “We have sought a report from the PCC and the Independent candidate and we are going to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission about the way the election was conducted.”
Meanwhile, there are reports that Congress may approach the election commission seeking the re-election in Haryana after Hooda reportedly told the party leadership that the Returning Officer was to be blamed for the fiasco.
But the most worrying aspect of Saturday’s alleged revolt was how the party’s national office-bearers too had reportedly chosen to side with rebels.
One Congress leaders said, “Surjewala is our national media head. It’s alarming if he has deliberately gone ahead the central leadership. This simply doesn’t augur well for us.”