Chandigarh: Amid reports that he may switch over to BJP, senior Haryana Congress leader Birender Singh, who has openly revolted against Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, said he would meet his supporters Thursday before deciding on his next step.
With rumours doing the rounds that he is all set to join BJP in the light of his meeting with the saffron party chief Amit Shah in Delhi two days ago, Singh, a known detractor of Hooda, however, preferred to keep cards close to his chest.
"I met Amit Shah and we had a long meeting. Since Haryana goes to polls soon, we talked on a number of issues concerning the state`s politics. This was my first meeting and I had not gone to meet him to say that I am leaving my party to join the BJP," Singh said.
Singh, a former Haryana minister, lost the 2009 Assembly polls to former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala from Uchana Kalan segment.
Asked to comment on reports that he might join BJP, Singh said, "When the time comes to decide, only then can I answer. I am having a meeting with supporters (at hometown Uchana today) and I will take their feedback on future step after which I will take a decision. Whatever they say, I will do accordingly."
Singh has openly revolted against Chief Minister Hooda and refused to contest the October Assembly polls under his leadership. Accusing Hooda of practising regional bias in carrying out development works, he said that he had asked his party to change the Chief Minister "because his continuance is damaging the party."
"He (Hooda) has weakened the Congress and I don`t know how the party will overcome and deal with the damage that has been caused. After the Lok Sabha poll debacle, I had said that Hooda should step down on moral grounds and demanded that he should be changed. Though it is quite late, Hooda should forthwith leave the Chief Minister`s post because there is growing resentment and disillusionment among Congress rank and file," he said.
Despite being a cousin of Hooda, Birender does not like to mix relation with politics.
Referring to his relation with BJP`s national spokesman Capt Abhimanyu, Birender said "like Abhimanyu is my relative, Hooda is also my brother in relation. But you see these relations have their own place in the social setup, but these cannot be mixed with politics. I have my own principles in politics and I never compromise on these".
Meanwhile, Birender`s meeting BJP president Shah fuelling speculations that he may leave Congress came at a time when Haryana Power Minister Ajay Singh Yadav also revolted against the Chief Minister.
Asked to comment if BJP was prepared to take Singh into the party-fold, Abhimanyu said, "There is jungle raj in Haryana under Hooda`s rule. The way leaders are defecting the Congress is no surprise. As far as Birender Singh is concerned, he is a tall figure in Haryana`s politics with unblemished career. If there is any such proposal from his side, the party will take a positive view".
Meanwhile, the Haryana Congress has been facing exodus of leaders, some of whom have joined the BJP camp, since the last Lok Sabha polls.
Notably, prominent leaders of the Congress who switched over to the saffron party include Rao Inderjit Singh, who had also been vocal against Hooda. Rao, who was then a Congress MP from Gurgaon, severed his four-decade old ties with Congress and contested as BJP nominee from Gurgaon and retained his seat. He is now a minister in the Narendra Modi government.
Another senior leader from Bhiwani region, Dharambir also switched over to BJP and is now a MP from Bhiwani-Mahendergarh Lok Sabha constituency.
Former Union minister Venod Sharma severed his four-decade old ties with the Congress to float his own Jan Chetna party. Another turncoat Ramesh Kaushik won from Sonepat Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket after quitting the Congress.