Bihar Cong rules out fear of split


Shortly after a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi earlier in the day, where Choudhary was accompanied by CLP leader Sadananad Singh and Bihar in-charge C P Joshi, besides AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Bihar Congress chief said: "All is well. The reports of a split in Bihar Congress are purely figment of someone’s imagination."

The denial comes barely hours after Sonia summoned top state leaders to enquire about the alleged poaching by the ruling party —the JD(U). At least four Congress MLAs — Vinay Verma, Anil Kumar, Poonam Yadav and Manohar Singh — were in the JD(U) before they were asked by Nitish to contest on Congress ticket in the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections.

The Congress, which has 27 MLAs in the Assembly, is in a dilemma whether it should play second fiddle to scam-tainted Lalu Prasad’s RJD, or chart out its own independent strategy to get a foothold in the caste-ridden state. At least six upper caste Congress MLAs are reportedly in favour of joining Nitish camp, but with the sword of anti-defection law looming large, they have stayed put.

To escape disqualification under anti-defection law, the rebel Congress leaders should have at least 18 out of 27 MLAsunder its fold to effect a split and join JD(U). Though the JD(U) says it’s not "an impossible number", the Congress feels it’s an uphill task.

A few days ago, Sonia Gandhi had dispatched her trusted emissary Jyotiraditya Scindia to Patna "to assess and quell the rebellion, if any". But Thursday call by the Congress chief in New Delhi was precisely because of an unexpected development two days ago here in the state capital.

While most of the ministers in the grand alliance government, including Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, were asked to vacate their official ministerial bungalows, two former ministers from Congress, Ashok Choudhary and Awadhesh Singh, were allowed to continue in their bungalows. This added grist to the rumour mill that some sort of poaching was on at the behest of the ruling camp.

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