A scuffle at Bihar Congress’s Sadaqat Ashram headquarters on Tuesday, between supporters of Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Kumar Choudhary and ousted Begusarai district chief Abhay Kumar Singh, marked yet another instance of resentment against the PCC chief breaking to the surface.
Since he constituted a new committee on February 28, Choudhary has often come under attack for having “given preference to freshly inducted leaders”. The previous month, senior Congress leaders including former BPCC presidents Sadanand Singh, Ramjatan Sinha and Anil Sharma, as well as former Congress legislature party leader Ashok Ram, had written to Sonia Gandhi complaining about Choudhary’s “autocratic way of functioning”.
Choudhary has played down the rebellion, saying he has the “blessings and the support” of the high command. He has, nevertheless, left for Delhi in an apparent firefighting exercise. “We have formed the PCC in consultation with all important leaders, including AICC general secretary-in-charge of the state, C P Joshi. I have blessings of Soniaji and Rahulji,” Choudhary says.
On Tuesday, he had organised a Holi milan and invited singers to perform when the scuffle broke out. Choudhary had to face over 100 supporters of Begusarai chief Abhay Kumar Singh, an upper-caste Bhumihar leader replaced with another, Arvind Singh.
Choudhary had dissolved the party’s one-year-old committee last September before forming the new one with 300-odd functionaries on February 28, leaving out many “party loyalists” for new entrants. Several leaders have been objecting to the appointments given to new entrants such as Purnamasi Ram, Naresh Yadav and G S R Das, who had crossed over from the RJD, and Aquil Haider, who has come in from the NCP.
A senior Congress leader tells The Indian Express: “When there is a party rule of not giving important positions to those who have served less than three years, the selection of four outsiders will naturally anger party workers. Besides, while Choudhary talks of infusing young blood, there are only six of the 76 general secretaries are below the age of 40, and most vice-presidents too are above 50. Begusarai leader Abhay Singh has only given voice to the revolt.