M A I N   N E W S

Hooda to stay on as Haryana CM
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 21
The Congress today ruled out leadership change in poll-bound Haryana indicating that Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda will stay on. Hooda met Congress president Sonia Gandhi today and reportedly discussed the political situation in the state and the way forward as the party heads for a tough Assembly election post a crushing Lok Sabha defeat.

Fate of Chavan, Gogoi hangs in balance

Prithviraj ChavanMaharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Delhi. She is believed to have told him about complaints received against him from state leaders. Former Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is a frontrunner to replace Chavan

Tarun GogoiAssam CM Tarun Gogoi is most likely to be replaced by state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who met Sonia on Saturday. Party’s old guard is backing Sarma for CM. Gogoi will meet Sonia on Monday

The fate of Chief Ministers of Maharashtra (Prithviraj Chavan) and Assam (Tarun Gogoi) continues to hang in the balance and will be clear next week.

After the meeting, Congress general secretary for Haryana Shakeel Ahmed told The Tribune: “There is no proposal under our consideration for any change in leadership in Haryana either at the level of the Chief Minister or at the level of party president.” Leaders agreed it was too late for changes in Haryana where Hooda’s replacement was another issue.

The Congress, however, continues to remain anxious about the future designs of Rajya Sabha MP Birender Singh, a staunch Hooda rival, who is “keeping his options open” and has reportedly met some BJP’s leaders. “The question to be addressed in Haryana is — what can we offer Choudhry Birender Singh, who spoke his mind at a recent meeting with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi,” said a leader.

While Rahul immediately set off dinner diplomacy to quell the Haryana rebellion and Hooda had dinner with his rivals Birender and Kumari Selja, today’s meeting between Sonia and Hooda is reported to have been designed to send the message to the CM that unity was vital. Sources close to the CM, however, termed the meeting “routine”.

Chavan also met Sonia after earlier meeting her political secretary Ahmed Patel and senior leader AK Antony who is leading an informal introspection group for the party to review the poll debacle. Sonia is learnt to have told Chavan of the complaints received against him from state leaders and the CM is reported to have told her that these complaints were as old as his tenure in office. Sonia did not give away her mind to Chavan, it is learnt.

Out of the three Chief Ministers of three poll-bound states — Haryana, Maharashtra and Assam — leadership change appears most imminent in Assam with reports of state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma meeting Sonia today. Gogoi will meet the Congress chief on Monday when he arrives for discussions with the AK Antony group that will review Assam’s Lok Sabha performance on Monday.

Sources said the party’s old guard is backing Sarma as replacement of Gogoi, who had earlier offered to quit following a no show in Lok Sabha elections in Assam. Sonia had rejected Gogoi’s resignation at that time.

In Maharashtra, too, signals of change appeared strong with former Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde emerging a frontrunner to replace Chavan in an impending reshuffle.





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