Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his Maharashtra counterpart Prithviraj Chavan held talks with Congress central leadership in New Delhi amid indications that decision on replacement of chief ministers will be made soon starting with Assam.
Hooda had a 30-minute meeting with Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday morning while Chavan met her political secretary Ahmed Patel in New Delhi on Friday night for nearly an hour.
Senior minister from Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma was also likely to meet top Congress leadership, party leaders said.
They said Assam could be the first state where a change of guard can take place followed by Maharashtra.
However, a decision in the case Haryana could be difficult as the state is going to elections later this year and a section feels that time is short, they said, pointing to the 'TINA' (there is no alternative) factor.
Sources close to Hooda termed it as a "routine meeting". They said there was no talk about change of leadership in the state.
AICC general secretary incharge for Haryana Shakeel Ahmed told PTI, "Change of leadership either at PCC level or CLP level is not under consideration".
The decision on replacement of the Chief Ministers is expected soon as part of massive organisational rejig in states after the drubbing in Lok Sabha polls.
While assembly elections in Assam are scheduled in 2016, the term of Haryana assembly expires in October and that of Maharashtra in December this year.
Congress leadership has been under pressure to replace Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for long time as rebellion had mounted in the state unit, more so after the poor show of Congress in the Lok Sabha polls.
Congress had managed to win only three of the 14 seats in Assam which was much below the party's expectations.
Since there are no early elections in Assam, the leadership views that if a change has to take place, it should be done now so that there is enough time for the new leadership in the state to prepare and perform in the assembly elections.
However, the central leadership of the Congress is keen that any change of guard in the state should be done in an amicable manner. Gogoi had been in touch with the central leadership in the last few days.
The party is likely to send some senior leaders as observers in the state before a decision is taken.
Party sources have said that in case of Maharashtra party veterans A K Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad could go as observers after the party decides to replace Chavan.
The Congress could win only two and it ally NCP just four of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra this time.
In Haryana, where Hooda is the Chief Minister, the party could win only one of the ten Lok Sabha seats. The Chief Minister's son Deepinder Hooda was the sole Congress candidate to win a Lok Sabha seat from the state.
There were voices against the style of functioning of Hooda in the Haryana unit of the Congress with former Union Minister Kumari Selja saying that the Chief Minister should have at least offered to resign following the party's poor show in the Lok Sabha polls.
The party also plans to replace PCC chiefs in ten states, including Uttar Pradesh.
K Anurag in Guwahati reports
Asked for his comment of the reported AICC’s stand on change of chief ministers, Gogoi said, “I can’t give opinion about it. I can neither say ‘yes’ nor say ‘no’ in this regard because it is related to the AICC. I just can say that I am going to Delhi tomorrow to attend a meeting of Congress chief ministers and state PCC presidents convened by the AICC on Monday. Somebody told me that the meeting is all about review of election performance of the party.”
Saying so, Gogoi just broken his about a week-long studied silence over the issue of
dissension within the Congress legislature party and thereby encouraged wider speculations in the local media about a possible decision to be taken by Congress high command on the dissidents’ efforts to unseat Gogoi ‘to save Congress in Assam’.
Meanwhile, dissident group’s leader Dr Himanta Bishwa Sharma on Friday met Congress leader Ahmed Patel in New Delhi, while a senior minister and a part of dissident brigade Gautom Roy commented that ‘energetic’ Himanta Bishwa Sharma should be put in the driving wheel in Assam by the AICC to help the arty recover from the drubbing it received at the hands of the BJP in Lok Sabha polls in Assam.