19 Bihar Congress MLAs seek split with RJD

HIGHLIGHTS

BPCC chief Ashok Chaudhary said to have the support of 14 Congress MLAs and four MLCs
19 of 27 Bihar Congress MLAs who met Rahul Gandhi urged him to break the alliance with RJD
Party spokesperson denied speculations of a split

PATNA: At least 19 of the 27 Bihar Congress MLAs who met Rahul Gandhi urged the party vice-president to break the alliance with the RJD, "at least for the time being". This number (19) is enough to split the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), which central leaders are trying to avert. The rebels need two-thirds, or 18 MLAs, to legally split the CLP.

Amid these rumours of a split, BPCC chief Ashok Chaudhary accused senior AICC functionaries of conspiring to remove him as chief of the state unit. He did not participate in Rahul Gandhi's meetings citing prior engagements. Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Chaudhary told TOI he would meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi shortly.Asked why he skipped Rahul's meetings, Chaudhary said, "I met Sonia and Rahul twice after Bihar CM Nitish Kumar dumped the Grand Alliance. As I had some personal engagements, I could not attend the meeting."
There is speculation that Chaudhary has the support of 14 Congress MLAs and four MLCs in Bihar. If so, they need four more MLAs to escape the anti-defection law for crossing over to JD(U). Political observers say Nitish has kept eight ministerial berths vacant to lure dissident Congress MLAs.


It is believed Chaudhary also enjoys the support of Bihar CLP leader Sadanand Singh. Congress insiders said though Chaudhary and Singh are not quite fond of each other, they share good relations with Nitish.

However, Congress spokesman Premchandra Mishra said JD(U)'s "efforts to engineer a split in the party have been futile", adding, "They (Chaudhary and Singh) had got the support of 14 MLAs and four MLCs for crossing over to JD(U). But three have withdrawn their names, and the matter has been conveyed to the party brass."

Calling for a split with RJD, the MLAs who met Rahul said its chief Lalu Prasad had never been faithful to Congress. They reportedly said Lalu kept the Muslim-Yadav constituencies with his party and remained critical of the upper castes, due to which Congress had been unable to perform well in the state for two decades. Congress has 27 MLAs in the 243-member Bihar assembly and six members in the legislative council.

"I told Rahul that Congress does not need an alliance with RJD in Bihar for the time being. If need be, we can get back to RJD prior to 2019 elections to defeat BJP for which Rahul and Sonia should take initiative. As of now, continuance of alliance with RJD would weaken the morale of party workers in the state," Congress MLA from Bhagalpur Ajit Shrama, who met Rahul on Wednesday, told TOI on Thursday.

Accusing RJD of being unfair to Congress, Sharma said, "RJD used to give us those seats on which we could never win. Besides, none of the posters of RJD's recently held anti-BJP rally had photographs of either Sonia or Rahul even though Lalu kept taking their names to promote the rally. Congress is a national party and it should not be dictated by RJD."

Source - Times Of India

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