Former Bihar Congress chief Ashok Kumar Choudhary and the party’s working president Kaukab Quadri on Thursday sparred over whether Congress should field a candidate for the Araria Lok Sabha seat during a bypoll. Araria, a traditional RJD seat, is vacant after the death of party MP Mohammed Taslimuddin. The date for the bypoll has not been announced.
Choudhary, recently removed from post of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president under a cloud of allegations of his proximity with the JD(U), said the Congress should stake claim for Araria. “The party should make a proposal to contest from Araria that has a good number of Muslims. The Congress has a good presence there. We have recently performed well in the bypolls in Punjab and MP,” said Choudhary.
But before the RJD could react, Bihar Congress working president Quadri warned party leaders against uttering anything “irresponsible”. He told The Indian Express: “Generally, such decisions are taken at the level of the party’s central high command. Even I, as a working president, am not entitled to make such a statement. Everyone knows our alliance partner RJD has been contesting from this seat.”
He said Choudhary was not entitled to say anything on party matters. “There are many stalwarts in the party like Sadanand Singh, Ashok Ram, Madan Mohan Jha and Vijay Shanker Dubey. But no one has made any such remarks”, said the Bihar Congress’ working president.
Sources said Choudhary has been trying to put Quadri on the backfoot by making such remarks. “He is also trying to provoke RJD chief Lalu Prasad and thus, embarrass the party,” said a senior Congress leader. The Bihar Congress is preparing to organise former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s 100th birth anniversary on a grand scale.
“We are organising (events) in every district headquarters on November 19 and will hold the closing function in Patna on November 22. We would invite eminent people from different walks of life and hear them rather than… speaking on the occasion,” said Quadri.
Choudhary said: “I am rooting for the Araria seat because we have made a good impact with two bypoll victories in our fight against the BJP.” Senior RJD leader A B Siddiqui said: “There is no question of leaving the Araria seat, which has been our traditional seat.”