NEW DELHI: Less than 48 hours after Congress Rajya Sabha candidate from Haryana Ajay Maken lost his election, the party leaders feel that he has been “deliberately deflated” to weaken the authority of party chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi.
Several senior leaders voiced their concern over the defeat of Maken, against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Jananayak Janata Party (JJP) backed media baron Kartikeya Sharma, in the closely contested Rajya Sabha polls on Saturday.
A senior party leader, who was watching the developments of the Rajya Sabha poll in Haryana said that Maken was handpicked by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
“Both the leaders had made it clear that Maken victory needs to be ensured and same was communicated to former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, his son Deepender Hoda and Vivek Bansal, in-charge for Haryana and other senior leaders,” the party leader, wishing not to be named told The New Indian.
Another party leader, wishing anonymity said that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had clearly conveyed that there cannot be anything going wrong in the Rajya Sabha polls for Maken.
He said that clear instruction was given to Deepender Hooda and Vivek Bansal to ensure the victory of Maken.
He said: “Whatever happened in the Haryana Rajya Sabha polls was not the defeat of Maken but it clearly violated the mandate and will expressed by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.”
Meanwhile, another party leader said that Haryana Congress got a new state chief replacing Kumari Selja in the form of Udai Bhan, who is close to Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly. The party leader said that Bhupinder Singh Hooda was given a free hand in state party affairs.
“The Rajya Sabha polls were considered to be the first test of Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s leadership after he got complete control of the state party unit. And he failed in the Rajya Sabha polls despite a clear message from the top brass of the party,” he said.
He also highlighted that Bhupinder Singh Hooda failed to keep the party leaders together despite having an adequate number of 31 MLAs in the assembly.
He said that the MLAs were flown to Raipur ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls but the party in Haryana failed to ensure a Rajya Sabha berth for Maken as only 29 votes were polled in his favour. One vote of Kiran Chaudhary was rejected while Kuldeep Bishnoi cross-voted.
When asked about the cross-voting by expelled party leader Bishnoi, son of three-time former chief minister Charan Lal, the party leader said, “Rahul Gandhi had spoken to Bishnoi over telephone ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls requesting him to vote in favour of Maken. Bishnoi had called for a meeting with Rahul Gandhi. The former party chief had replied to Bishnoi to meet him after the Rajya Sabha polls.”
The party leader further said that Bhupinder Singh Hooda was unable to keep the party flock together.
“Similarly, the role of other senior party leaders in the state like Bansal, MLA Kiran Chaudhary, whose vote was rejected has left the party red-faced,” he added.