Dissent within Bihar Congress Spills Out in Public

Ousted BPCC President Ashok Kumar Chowdhary talking to reporters in Patna on Monday.

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Patna: A day after Congress leaders in Bihar declared that everything was just peachy within the party, supporters of Akhilesh Prasad Singh and former BPCC President Ashok Kumar Chowdhary clashed with each other outside Sadaqat Ashram indicating deep divide in the party that could lead to a split Congress in the state.

The drama unfolded on Monday in full view of the public and dozens of reporters outside Sadaqat Ashram, the party's state headquarters, just minutes before the leaders were gearing up to hold a meeting of the newly-elected delegates.

As Chowdhary's supporters tried to enter the compound to attend the meeting, they were met with fierce resistance by Singh's supporters who roughed them up only to aggravate the situation as Chaudhary's supporters began chanting anti-Congress slogans and pro Narendra Modi chants.

Those who were able to get inside the meeting hall accused the current leadership of hijacking the party and purposely leaving out leaders who had worked all their lives to make Congress strong in the state.

"The way real party leaders are being treated and insulted, it would be no surprise that the BJP would only become stronger in Bihar," the former President and ex-Education Minister said.

Interestingly, the whole drama was being played out in the presence of Pradip Bhattacharya, a Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal who was sent to Patna as the state returning officer for the purpose of electing the new delegates.

Later, while talking to reporters, Bhattacharya, Akhilesh Singh, and BPCC acting President Kaukab Qadri denied the scuffle saying it was just a minor incident that was handled properly.

"Some leaders tried to create a ruckus but the situation was brought under control very shortly," Bhattacharya said before leaving for Kolkata.

Denial aside, the party set up a probe committee to be led by former legislator Jyoti Kumari to 'get to the bottom of the truth'.

The committee will submit its findings next week, Qadri said.

Choudhary, in the meantime, calling the incident 'unfortunate', claimed that today's meeting of the BPCC delegates was called without issuing the list of elected leaders. "This was undemocratic and unconstitutional," he said adding some anti-Congress elements had found ways into the party who were determined to make Congress weaker in Bihar.

"Until few months ago, these people were known for burning effigies of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi but today they are occupying important positions in the party as opposed to those who had dedicated their lives to the strengthening of the Congress Party," he said.

Former minister Ashok Ram, Shakeel Ahmed, Sadanand Singh, Vijay Shankar Dubey, and Premchandra Mishra were also present at the chaotic meeting.

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