In electoral politics, everything has potential to be squeezed to get people’s vote or earn their support, no matter how long their support lasts for the party. It normally takes time to convert people’s support into votes. Since Assembly elections in some of the important states including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are scheduled to take place from next month, political parties are in mad rush to make the most of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation (DeMo) move. The BJP is hopeful that DeMo will get huge support in the Assembly polls. The Congress is also quite upbeat about the Centre’s DeMo move, hoping that the people will teach Modi a lesson in coming Assembly polls. Unperturbed, the BJP leaders are going town claiming that the people of India have given their assent to the Prime Minister’s DeMo surgical strike by voting so emphatically in favour of saffron outfit in Chandigarh Municipal Corporation poll in which the Congress was made to bite the dust.
In Haryana, there is no poll scheduled to take place in the state in near future, but the Congress has chosen to use the DeMo tool to galvanise dormant cadres against the ruling regime. Hence AICC spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi flew from New Delhi to Chandigarh to address a press conference at HPCC office last fortnight, which was virtually boycotted by the party’s state unit spokesperson and treasurer, who were present in the office premises but refused to share dais with Chaturvedi, which she justified claiming that she did never feel like sharing dais with the PCC office-bearers as and when she addresses a press conference. She does not need to be heckled on this issue, but she was certainly not at her best while responding to queries related to deep divisions among the Congress rank and file in the state. She also discounted the poll outcome of civic elections in Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.
Talking about demonetisation, she forgot to reflect on how the decision will impact people’s life in Haryana including farmers, daily wagers, scores of those engaged in unorganised sector and ill-preparedness of the state government in tackling these problems. It seems that she had not been properly briefed about problems arising out of demonetisation in Haryana and finally she went on generalising the problems being faced by the people due to DeMo. She spoke about people being queue and dying heart attacks and so on. In Haryana where every state government including the present dispensation has made an endless number of claims about the increasing use of I-T there was hardly any tested mechanism in place to minimise the people’s DeMo woes. Post-DeMo, the government is talking about doing everything under the sun to ensure that the state goes cashless, which will be known only when the goal is achieved.
The worst took place on January 6 when the Congress workers in the state were agitating against the Centre’s demonetisation move. They fought among themselves in Narnaul and there were reports of scuffle from other places as well. The Congress party’s Haryana unit is being led by Dr Ashok Tanwar and he is being troubled by those who are not able to digest his ascension to the top slot. The process of transition of state Congress leadership from Phool Chand Mullana to Dr Ashok Tanwar has not been a smooth affair. He has not been allowed to run the party in a proper manner simply because he is not in a position to accommodate whims and fancies of other leaders while taking the party to grass roots level workers. It is a matter of fact that the Congress in Haryana remained totally dormant under the leadership of Mullana too, but this was never highlighted at the party forum because the Congress was in power in the state and no one was ready to remember the fact that power and positions are not to be taken for granted. Post-2014 Assembly polls, things have changed a lot. Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, despite being a Congress heavyweight, was not allowed to factor effectively in the selection of new HPCC president. Hooda is an important Congress leader from the state which he ruled over for ten years. In order to revive Congress in the state, the party’s central leadership needs to intervene. Delay is only proving too dear for the Congress in Haryana!