Bihar Congress president and Education Minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary on Wednesday said his party could walk out of the Grand Alliance if his party high command said so. He made the remarks in the context of the JD(U)’s decision to support demonetisation, which the Congress has been opposing.
“The Congress is a national party and entitled to take an independent stand on issues concerning common people. We want a united opposition on the notes ban. The public is facing huge problems because of the ill-prepared move to ban notes of higher denomination. We are part of the Grand Alliance government on the instruction of the party high command, and we are ready to walk out of it if the high command says so,” Choudhary said.
The Bihar Congress organised a protest march across district and block headquarters against demonetisation.
Later, speaking to The Indian Express, Choudhary said: “I only meant to say how a national party like us is committed to take a strong stand against the notes ban because of inconvenience and chaos caused by it. The Opposition at the Centre needs to be united to oppose it.”
He said the Congress was against black money, as was JD(U). “But we do not support the manner in which the notes ban decision was taken,” Choudhary said.
A senior Congress leader said Choudhary’s remarks should not be taken as “off the cuff”.
“When we needed Nitish Kumar to stand by us on demonetisation, he chose to have the best of both worlds. He can either be with the Opposition or with the government,” said the leader.
JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi said: “We are surprised at what Choudhary said. His remarks are incomprehensible as we are protesting along with the Congress on public issues. We support demonetisation but want the government to address public concerns at the earliest.”
The RJD, which has also opposed the notes ban, played down Choudhary’s remarks. “We should not read too much into the Bihar Congress leader’s statement,” Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav said.
The Congress has 27 MLAs in the Grand Alliance while JD(U) and RJD have 71 and 80 MLAs, respectively. The alliance has 178 MLAs in the House of 243.