Bihar bypolls: Factionalism resurfaces in Congress; RLSP waits for invitation to campaign for NDA

Senior Congress leader and former state unit chief Ashok Chaudhary was hurt that the list of 40 campaigners released by his party did not include him.

Published: 24th February 2018 08:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th February 2018 08:44 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

PATNA: Ahead of the upcoming bypolls for a Lok Sabha seat and two Assembly seats in Bihar, the state’s ruling NDA and the Opposition UPA are beset with lack of internal coordination and trying hard to project themselves as united entities.

While the old scourge of factionalism within Congress came to the fore on Saturday after the party made public a list of leaders who would campaign, NDA ally Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) said its leaders would campaign only if an invitation is extended to the party.

Senior Congress leader and former state unit chief Ashok Chaudhary was hurt that the list of 40 campaigners released by his party did not include him. Congress and RJD are contesting the bypolls in alliance.

“This list of campaigners is a deliberate insult to me. They (senior Congress leaders) have been doing it continuously. It is being done at the behest of the Congress in-charge for Bihar, CP Joshi,” said Chaudhary, a Mahadalit leader who served as state Congress chief for four years and served as education minister in the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance government that collapsed in July last.

Sources said Chaudhary’s perceived closeness with Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar was behind his exclusion from campaigners. Currently an MLA, he had also allegedly led an effort to split the 27-member legislature party to help JD(U) in August last year.

Congress leaders who would campaign for the bypolls include state unit chief Kaukab Quadri, CLP leader Sadanand Singh, senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jyotiraditya Scindia, RPN Singh, Harish Rawat, Anand Sharma, Sheila Dixit and Ajay Maken.

Denial of a ticket for Jehanabad Assembly seat has reportedly RLSP chief and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha unhappy with both BJP and JD(U). The seat, which saw many claimants, was finally allotted to JD(U) even though it had expressed its unwillingness to contest for any of the three seats.

“We will campaign for the bypolls if we are invited,” said RLSP national general secretary Madhaw Anand. He, however, denied the party was hurt by denial of ticket.

RJD has fielded candidates for Araria Lok Sabha seat and Jehanabad Assebly seat while its ally Congress is contesting for the Bhabhua Assembly seat. Similarly, BJP has fielded candidates in Araria and Jehanabad while ally JD(U) is contesting in Jehanabad. The bypolls are slated to be held on March 11.

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