In yet another jolt to crumbling Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana, its former national vice president and state president Ashok Arora and former MLA Pradeep Chaudhary Sunday joined Indian National Congress in presence of Congress’ senior leadership at New Delhi.
Arora had recently resigned from INLD accepting moral responsibility for party’s humiliating defeat in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Besides Arora and Chaudhary, former Haryana minister Subhash Goyal too joined Congress, while it was a comeback for Independent MLA Jai Parkash, who too joined Congress on Sunday. Jai Parkash had represented Congress from Hisar parliamentary constituency in 14th Lok Sabha. He also remained a Union minister. However, he had later parted ways with Congress and contested Vidhan Sabha polls from Kalayat Assembly constituency as an Independent candidate and won. In Jind bypoll in January this year, Jai Parkash had also campaigned in support of Congress nominee Randeep Surjewala.
Former Minister and INLD’s MLA late Jaswinder Singh Sandhu’s son, Gaganjit Sandhu, too joined Congress, on Sunday.
Arora, with a political career of over three decades had remained INLD’s state unit president for 15 years. A four-time MLA, he had been a Cabinet minister and Vidhan Sabha Speaker. Considered a close aide of Abhay Chautala, Arora had been throwing hints of quitting INLD for the last few months.
"One can imagine what kind of efforts Arora ji must have made to establish INLD by being its chief in Haryana for last 15 years. But now he believes that only Congress can compete with the BJP. Jai Prakash had been a parliamentarian for 15 years. He is also a sitting MLA. Other senior leaders Subhash Goyal, Pradeep Chaudhary and Gaganjit Sandhu, son of late Jaswinder Singh Sandhu, have also joined Congress today," said senior Congress leader and party’s Haryana affairs in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad.
"We are very happy that they have today become part of Congress family. We all know how Ashok Arora played a vital role in strengthening INLD at state level. Congress party has gained immense strength with such leaders joining us," state Congress chief Kumari Selja added.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda said, "Ashok Arora had been a fellow legislator many times. Jai Prakash had been a fellow legislator and parliamentarian too. Subhash Goyal had been a minister while I was in the opposition. Pradeep Chaudhary had also been a fellow legislator during one term. Their personal conduct inside and outside the Vidhan Sabha had always been good. With their joining Congress, we have gained immense strength and it will help us oust BJP government from Haryana…".
Replying to queries during a media briefing at AICC headquarters in New Delhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad hinted that these leaders will be "given a suitable status and rank in Congress party", depending on "stature".