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Bihar Congress Leaders Lavish Praise on Nitish Kumar, Fuel Rumours of Split in Party

The recent support for the chief minister has led to speculation of another split in the Congress, six months after four legislative council members led by Ashok Chaudhary joined the JD(U).

Alok Kumar | News18dmalok

Updated:July 4, 2018, 8:04 PM IST
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Bihar Congress Leaders Lavish Praise on Nitish Kumar, Fuel Rumours of Split in Party
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (Image: Network18 Creative)
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Patna: The pro-Nitish Kumar chorus seems to be growing among a section of legislators in the Congress, fuelling rumours of a possible split in the grand old party.

On Wednesday, Congress legislator Ramdeo Rai heaped praises on Kumar — the seventh leader to do so — evoking a response from the Janata Dal (United) that hinted at welcoming the legislators with open arms.

The recent support for the chief minister has led to speculation of another split in the Congress, six months after four legislative council members led by Ashok Chaudhary joined the JD(U).

The Congress has 27 members in the assembly. Many believe Chaudhary, who led the party for four years, is engineering the discord again.

The sudden spurt of support for Kumar has also revived the prospect of additions in the ‘famous fourteen’ — Congress members who were said to be a part of the rebel faction but held back to get recognition in the House. One needs the support of at least 18 MLAs.

When contacted, Chaudhary said, “I have nothing to do with the Congress now, but yes, many of their leaders are in touch with me.”

Talking about the possibility of another split in the Congress, he said, “I am focusing on strengthening the JD(U) and I will do whatever is required for that. One thing is clear; the Congress has no future with the RJD.”

Chaudhary said, “The Congress has lost its base after its alliance in 1993. Congress’s core vote bank was considered to be upper castes, Dalits and Muslims. Even when I was at the helm, more than 80 per cent active leaders at the ground level were from upper castes. But they don’t want to even see Lalu Yadav, who openly scolded them.”

Referring to praise for Kumar in the grand old party, he said: “Every political party looks forward to an association with people who have credibility, mass appeal and are acceptable to people.”

When asked if he would welcome leaders from the Congress into the JD(U), Chaudhary said, “The decision has to be taken by them.”

The clamour for the chief minister began when Congress’s newly appointed in charge Shakti Singh Gohil asked Kumar to return to the RJD-Congress-HAM alliance.

Party veteran Sadanand Singh, who played a crucial role in removing Chaudhary as Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) president, also praised Kumar and asked the central leadership to re-think its strategy. Soon, legislators Shakeel Ahmad Khan, Tausif Alam, Munna Tiwary and Sudarshan Kumar joined the pro-Kumar group.

As the call for the chief minister to re-join the Mahagathbandhan grew, several Congress MLAs started attacking ally Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The RJD shot back at the criticism, with party vice-president Shivanand Tiwary calling the Congress “finished” in Bihar.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav declared that he spoke directly to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and local leaders did not matter in his alliance with the Congress. This added to the animosity, with the Congress high command having to issue a gag order on the issue of the Bihar chief minister.
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