Infighting within the Bihar Congress came to the fore today with its working president and former chief engaging in a spat ahead of three by-elections in the state next month.
In a statement, BPCC acting president Kaukab Qadri criticised his predecessor Ashok Choudhary for blaming AICC general secretary and Bihar in-charge C P Joshi, for not including him (Choudhary) in the list of star campaigners. Choudhary hit back, questioning Qadri of his contribution in the Assembly elections held three years ago.
At that time, Qadri was vice-president of the party’s state unit and Choudhary was president of the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC). “The BPCC has been treating Choudhary with the respect that is owed to him by virtue of his seniority. He has been issuing statements showing the party in a poor light. His latest statement about C P Joshi is a case in point”, Qadri said.
Choudhary did not attend most party functions in the recent past in spite of being invited, but he has been made a member of a panel set up to look after the three by-polls, Qadri said. By-elections for Bhabhua and Jahanabad Assembly seats, and Araria Lok Sabha constituency would be held on March 11. Qadri also expressed displeasure over a recent statement by Dilip Choudhary, an MLC and considered a loyalist of Ashok Choudhary, who had said the Congress will be “out for a duck” in Bhabhua.
“Such statements give rise to factionalism in the party. C P Joshi has never acted against individuals out of ill-will. Ashok Choudhary and his ilk should refrain from making such statements,” Qadri added.
On his part, Choudhary said, he was asked by the media why his name did not figure in a list of 40 star campaigners of the party. “As a former BPCC president, I knew such decisions were taken at the level of the general secretary in-charge of the state. Joshi’s dislike for me is fairly well-known and I just stated the truth,” he told PTI. Choudhary said he should not be accused of wrongdoing if expressed his anguish over not being made a star campaigner when even ‘non-entities’ are there in the list.
He said, “Qadri seems to have suddenly acquired the wisdom to advise me on how to conduct myself within the party. Could he tell me what was his contribution, as BPCC vice-president, when the party fought the Assembly polls under my leadership and returned with 27 seats out of the 40 we had contested?”
The Congress’ state unit has been in turmoil ever since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar walked out of the Grand Alliance which comprised his JD(U), the RJD and the Congress. Choudhary, who was a minister in the Grand Alliance government, is said to be close to Kumar. The other faction in the Congress – which is more comfortable with Lalu Prasad’s RJD – has been accusing him of trying to split the party. Choudhary was removed from the party president’s post in September last year.