More than two years after its disastrous performance in the assembly polls in Bihar, the Congress finally brought a new state unit president — replacing Mehboob Ali Kaiser with former state minister Ashok Chaudhary.
While the outgoing state party chief was a Muslim, Chaudhary is a young Dalit leader.
Top party sources added that the change of the guard in Bihar bears the imprint of Rahul Gandhi, who had held several meetings to pick a new party president for the state.
The move also comes at a time when the party has started gearing up for the crucial 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Bihar, with 40 assembly seats, is one of those states along with Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, where the Congress is desperate to revive its fortunes.
Kaiser had put in his papers on moral grounds following party’s rout in 2010 assembly polls after the Congress was reduced to just four MLAs in 243-member strong House.
Welcoming the appointment of Chaudhary, Chandan Yadav, a former Youth Congress general secretary, said, “His experience in working with Youth Congress and age will help his reviving the party.”
Former AICC secretary Shakeel uz-Zaman Ansari added: “Rahul Gandhi has made the right choice. It will help the party to get back its traditional vote among Dalits.”
43-year-old Chaudhary, former minister of state for prison, becomes only the second Dalit leader after Dumar Lal Baitha to head the party in Bihar. He also belongs to the sub-group ‘mahadalit’ which is aggressively wooed by the ruling JD(U). His father, Mahavir Chowdhary is a nine-time MLA.
The appointment was announced by AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi in New Delhi on Sunday.