Fight for Jind: Rise of Randeep Surjewala and tough choices ahead for Congress in Haryana

File photo of Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. Photograph:( ANI )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 10, 2019, 01.07 PM (IST) Kartikeya Sharma

It is a fight straight out of a Bollywood thriller. The head of the AICC communication department, Randeep Singh Surjewala, who defeated the sitting chief minister of Haryana OP Chautala from Narwana in 2005 will be locked in a strong contest against his grandson Digvijay Chautala in 2019.

The difference is that Randeep defeated Chautala from Narwana and this time he has been asked to fight from Jind. Currently, he is a sitting MLA from Kaithal.

The story does not end here. The fact is Randeep was initially reticent but the party pushed him to fight from Jind as it had no candidates who could give both BJP and the newly launched JJP which is headed by MP Dushyant Chautala, who is another grandson of OP Chautala, a strong fight.

Jind has traditionally been dominated by Jai Prakash, Surjewalas and Chaudhary Birendra Singh. The only issue was that Randeep is a sitting MLA who is pretty comfortable in his current seat.

Sources say that initially a section of Congress under Randip, PCC chief Ashok Tanwar and Kiran Chaudhary wanted independent MLA Jai Prakash’s son Vikas to be fielded from the constituency.

However, sources added that the proposal was opposed by former chief minister Bhupendra Singh Hudda. In this political quagmire, the choice ultimately zeroed down to Randeep who subsequently accepted to fight. 

With the decision to fight, Randeep emerged as a fresh face supported by many leaders opposed to Hudda within the organisation. The irony is that the Congress could not find one local candidate to put a fight in Jind constituency and had to push Randeep who had been requesting Congress president Rahul Gandhi to be sent back to Haryana for state politics.

Sources say that with him as a candidate, Congress has a chance to remain in either number-1 or number-2 position in Jind. 

“Any other candidate if fielded from the constituency would have been relegated to number 4 position and that would have been suicidal for the party before the Lok Sabha elections,” said a source in the Haryana Congress. The decision was taken in the context of very poor performance of the Congress in the elections for mayors held in 2018. BJP registered a clean sweep in all five big cities.

BJP has fielded Dr Kishan Midda. Raj Kumar Saini who has been at the forefront of the anti-Jat politics is also deploying a candidate which would lead to intense fight within non-Jat segment.

Despite being a tough fight, Randeep is all set to gain a bigger foothold in Haryana Congress.

In case he wins the elections, it will mean good-bye to Bhupendra Singh Hudda as the tallest leader of Haryana, if he loses respectably, he would be in a position to consolidate his position as the CM face of Haryana for the 2019 assembly elections. However, this would not mean that battle outside the party would melt away.