Is Congress crumbling in Bihar? State unit has become litmus test for Rahul Gandhi; here’s why

By: | Updated: September 8, 2017 3:27 PM

All doesn't seem to be well with Congress party in Bihar, even as the party claims otherwise.

rahul gandhi, congress, bihar congress, bihar congress rebellion, rahul gandhi bihar, rahul bihar congress, lalu yadav, bihar news, congress news, rahul leadership testNew Delhi : Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi at a meeting with members of the Fishermens’ Congress in New Delhi on September 6, 2017. (PTI)

All doesn’t seem to be well with Congress in Bihar, even as the party claims all is well. On Thursday, the party claimed to have “defused” the situation in its Bihar unit in the wake of reports suggesting rebellion within the party. Reports have been claiming that several Congress MLAs are gravitating towards the ruling JD(U) after the disintegration of the Grand Alliance last month.

According to PTI, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has met over 20 of the 27 Congress MLAs of the state this week, seeking their views on how to strengthen the party. Congress Sources told the news agency that there was no internal rebellion and the party may start some changes in the Bihar unit soon.

Congress general secretary in-charge of Bihar, C P Joshi, on Thursday rejected reports that a rebellion was brewing in the party. He claimed it was only a “media creation”. Despite Joshi’s denial, developments in Bihar Congress comes as a litmus test for Rahul Gandhi’s leadership ability.

During Congress MLAs’ meeting with Rahul, Bihar Congress chief Ashok Chaudhary was conspicuous by his absence. Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar reported today that Congress may soon remove Choudhary from the Bihar Congress chief post. The party believes Chaudhary may influence the upcoming organisational elections of the party and may also take away local leaders with him if he quits the party.

There have been rumours that Chaudhary was getting closer to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and he may dump Congress, along with several other MLAs to join the ruling JD(U). However, Choudhary on Thursday said in Patna, “Some AICC leaders are behind the crisis in the Congress in Bihar…they are fueling rebellion against me by alleging that I’m making attempts to break the party in favour of the JD(U) so they can replace me with their favourite,” Chaudhary was quoted as saying by PTI. “They would be unmasked very soon,” he added.

Chaudhary has been Bihar Congress chief for four years. Apart from him, however, the party has a bigger problem.

Times of India today reported that as many as 19 Congress MLAs have asked Rahul to snap ties with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. The MLAs who met Congress vice-president reportedly said the party doesn’t need any alliance with Lalu and his party for the time being in Bihar. They reasoned that Lalu has never been faithful to Congress in Bihar. The RJD chief has been critical of Upper Castes, which was once the vote bank of Congress in the state. The MLAs reportedly said this has resulted in diminishing fortunes of the party in the state in last two decades.

While Rahul doesn’t seem to be personally very fond of Lalu, Bihar Congress’ demand to snap ties with RJD may trigger protests within central leadership of the party as many of them have high regards for Lalu. Moreover, Congress may also risk losing future potential allies like TMC if it snaps ties with RJD at this point of time. It remains to be seen how Rahul will bring the party out of this situation.

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