A desert storm may have been averted in Rajasthan with all three wins by the Ashok Gehlot government in Friday’s Rajya Sabha elections but in Haryana, the storm may just be whipping up.
The lone Congress candidate, Ajay Maken, lost in a nail-biting finish and this has given rise to much speculation about the cross-voter from the Congress camp. In an early morning cryptic tweet, Kuldeep Bishnoi said: “I have the ability to crush the hood, do not leave the forest because of the fear of snakes. Good morning 🙏”
The tweet has now given rise to the question if the reference was to the Hoodas. The fact is that many in Haryana Congress have been miffed with the growing clout of the Hoodas and the fact that he has been given a free hand.
Bhupinder Hooda is CLP leader, while his protégé Udai Bhan was made state Congress chief. Kuldeep Bishnoi, with his influence on at least three seats, kept waiting and met Priyanka Vadra with an assurance that he would be given an important post. However, this never happened. A few days ago, during a show of strength rally by the Hoodas, Bhiwani MLA Kiran Chaudhary openly rebelled and tweeted to ask why her face was missing from the posters.
Now, with the Hoodas having failed to ensure a win for Maken, knives are likely to be out and the Gandhis will be questioned as to whether they made the mistake of putting all their eggs in one basket by making the Hoodas all powerful in the state.
The fact is that most of the second-rung leadership of the Congress in the state is unhappy and could be vulnerable to poaching by the BJP or even AAP; these could be the likes of Kiran Chaudhary and Kuldeep Bishnoi. Kumari Selja, who had to give up her post to accommodate Bhupinder Hooda’s choice as state Congress chief, has every reason to be upset. Randeep Surjewala, once close to the Hoodas, is now a Rajya Sabha MP and almost out of state politics. The defeat of the Congress could have an important bearing on the upcoming state polls, with the might of the Hoodas being compromised.
Sources in the Congress say the top brass is also worried that the damage may have also been done by some Hooda supporters who share a good equation with the family of Kartikeya Sharma — media baron and an independent candidate backed by the BJP.
Meanwhile, the real winner lies in Rajasthan. The hat trick has added to the power of Ashok Gehlot and the Congress top leadership may now find it even more difficult to stop the magician. This means Sachin Pilot’s hope of becoming chief minister soon may not be realised. When Ahmed Patel had won a nail-biting Rajya Sabha election, it had silenced his detractors within the party. Electoral win has its way; you win some, you lose some. However, this poll has once again exposed the vulnerability of the Gandhis.