Bihar pradesh Congress committee (BPCC) president Ashok Chaudhary, on Wednesday, dismissed as speculation media reports of a growing proximity between his party and the ruling Janata Dal (United).
“All this talk of closeness of the two parties on the issue of special status to Bihar is just political perception that has no basis in reality”, Chaudhary said soon after taking charge as BPCC chief.
He said the UPA-led dispensation had been generous towards Bihar and offering grants more than during the entire tenure of the NDA government at the Centre in keeping with Sonia Gandhi's commitment to its people. "During the 2009 elections, she had assured that the Centre would continue supporting resource-starved state for development of infrastructure, even if it did not form the government in the state," said Chaudhary.
Taking swipe at the drive spearheaded by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar for special status to Bihar, Chaudhary, also a former minister, said the party was against Kumar's attempt to brand the entire campaign as his own baby. "In fact, the demand for special package for Bihar was raised at the time of creation of Jharkhand (in November 2000). Leaders cutting across the party lines had passed a resolution in the assembly to this effect and it was sent the Centre," he said.
About the prospect of reviving his party’s old alliance in the state (with Lalu Prasad-led RJD), Chaudhary said that the Congress had always strived for strengthening secular forces, even at the cost of its own political interest.
He, however, refused to say whether his party had any plan to tie up with RJD, saying that the Congress' vote bank had faced serious desertion by upper castes because of the past coalition.
Chaudhary, who was greeted by a large number of party leaders and workers at Sadaquat Ashram on his arrival, said that he believed in collective leadership for revival of the organization at the grassroots level.
"I have good working relationships with senior leaders to act as mentors. Besides, there is a lot of young leaders, who would help execute the blueprint for strengthening the organization," he said.
Senior party leaders, including those aspiring for the top post, turned up at the party office along with their supporters in large numbers and congratulated the new BPCC chief.
These included Immediate past president Chaudhary Memboob Ali Kaiser, and Congress legislature party leader Sadanand Singh.