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Ashok Choudhary's ouster as chief deepens rift in Bihar Congress, split imminent?

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    He lost his minister post in June and now Ashok Choudhary has lost his party president post in Bihar Congress. While his ouster was imminent given the recent meetings of state leaders with the central leadership, his removal from the post, one he held since 2013, has only widened the split in the Congress' Bihar unit. 18 MLAs of the party are now all set to stage a walkout, splitting the party.

    Ashok Choudhary's ouster as chief deepens rift in Bihar Congress, split imminent?

    His proximity to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may have cost Ashok Choudhary, the longest-serving PCC president in Bihar, his post but it was his rebellion against his party's camaraderie with Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal that proved to be the last nail in the coffin. The 49-year-old leader is said to have asked the senior leadership of the party to 'put him out of his misery'.

    The tension between Congress legislators and those of Lalu Yadav's RJD is no secret in Bihar, especially after the failure of the grand alliance between Congress-RJD-JD(U) in June. Choudhary has not minced words in being critical of his party's 'lack of effort to save the alliance' in Bihar. He had at least 18 legislators including 14 MLAs of the Congress backing him.

    The Congress has 27 MLAs in Bihar and six MLCs. The central leadership of the COngress got a whiff of the rebellion within the party after MLAs wrote to Sonia Gandhi complaining of then state unit chief Ashok Choudhary was seeking signatures from MLAs to quit Congress and join the JD(U). If Choudhary decides to leave the party, he will leave with enough numbers to ensure that the anti-defection law does not apply. , the anti-defection law cannot apply to the Congress MLAs who choose to jump to the JD(U) if the number reaches two-thirds of current assembly strength of the party. The rebellion will then be considered a split in the party.

    In August this year, the central leadership of the Congress was jittery with speculations of a rebellion within the Bihar unit. Letters had been acquired from Congress legislators pledging their support to Choudhary. So strong was the hint of a split that the central leadership rushed Jyotiraditya Scindia to foil the bid.

    Incidentally, owing to the treatment he had been receiving within the party, Ashok Choudhary, has pestered the party to make its stand clear on him. The exit was inglorious but the events behind it were too.

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