October 27, 2020

‘Eyewash’ lament on Congress meet

New Delhi: Congress leaders from Bihar expecting a meaningful brainstorming session with Rahul Gandhi on Monday returned disappointed as the event turned out to be a superficial consultative process for the appointment of a new state chief.

Most leaders described the exercise as “eyewash,” lamenting that a serious discussion on the miserable organisational state of the Congress in Bihar and its politics was not possible in this manner. Though some leaders were excited before the event, praising Rahul for ensuring that Bihar is discussed for the first time in the last 25 years, they described it as a “charade of consultation” before appointment of a new state Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief.

Though the new general secretary in charge of Bihar, Shaktisinh Gohil, told leaders that they can tell Rahul anything about any issue concerning the state, they were barely given two-three minutes each in separate meetings. Most leaders relied on platitudes and stressed the need for a full-fledged state president. While the ex-PCC chiefs, Congress legislature party leaders and MPs met Rahul separately, MLAs were asked to express their views at a joint meeting, forcing all of them to suppress their true feelings.

One leader told The Telegraph on condition of anonymity: “There was no leading question from Rahul and in that sense we could have raised any issue. I know even those who believe the Congress is in a pathetic condition in the state and the party had almost been outsourced to Lalu Yadav instead of making a serious effort to strengthen the organisation, chose to ignore the complex issues. They chose to demand immediate appointment of a full-fledged PCC president.”

Bihar leaders have demanded appointment of a new state unit chief for the last four years, but nobody paid heed to the voice emanating from the grassroots. And then came the betrayal by the incumbent chief Ashok Chowdhary, who first plotted an exodus of MLAs to the JDU after Nitish Kumar defected to the BJP and finally crossed over himself. The then general secretary in-charge, C.P. Joshi, slept over the crisis and the new president wasn’t chosen even as Chowdhary was removed in September 2017. The new general secretary impressed everybody by his frequent visits and intense interactions with local leaders and Monday’s meeting raised hopes of a meaningful dialogue on the possible measures to revive the party in the key state. But they returned with the impression that Rahul, who was strongly opposed to an alliance with the RJD in 2014, is now comfortable playing second fiddle to Tejashwi Yadav in the 2019 general election.

On the choice of the new state president too, there were suggestions for giving the reins to a leader of stature with the primary purpose of strengthening the party. There are senior leaders like Meira Kumar, Shakeel Ahmed, Nikhil Kumar, Ashok Ram and Vijay Shankar Dubey, but the focus appears to be on second-rung contenders such as Akhilesh Singh, Ranjita Ranjan, Prem Chandra Mishra, Madan Mohan Jha, etc.

Some leaders felt the president will be selected keeping in mind the harmonious relations with the RJD. Any aggressive campaign to revive the party may trigger a confrontation with Lalu’s party. Sources said Akhilesh Singh, who was earlier in the RJD and has recently won the Rajya Sabha election with its support, may be preferred to other senior leaders.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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