Fisticuffs at Bihar Cong headquarters; Sonia authorised to name new BPCC chief
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Fisticuffs at Bihar Cong headquarters; Sonia authorised to name new BPCC chief

Supporters of BPCC ex-chief Ashok Choudhary and ex-union minister Akhilesh Prasad Singh clashed at Sadaquat Ashram after the former protested against alleged irregularities in election of PCC delegates.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2017 20:24 IST
Subhash Pathak
Subhash Pathak
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar Cong hqs,Fisticuffs at Sadaquat Ashram,Ashok Choudhary
A Cong worker in torn clothes after fisticuffs broke out during a meeting at party office in Patna on Monday. (Santosh/HT photo)

The Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) headquarters at Sadaquat Ashram in western Patna turned into a battlefield on Monday, when supporters of party’s former state unit chief Ashok Choudhary and his rivals came to blows.

The scuffle broke out when Choudhary’s supporters were roughed up during the meeting of newly elected BPCC delegates. The trouble began when Choudhary’s supporters alleged irregularities in the election of delegates and resorted to sloganeering in front of the Sadaquat Ashram gate after they were denied entry.

Choudhary and his supporters allegedly sought to create ruckus even inside the meeting venue by alleging that many party leaders were “deliberately left out” by people who were now ruling the roost in the state Congress.

In the meeting, Choudhary said the BJP was set to gain in Bihar if contributions of bona fide leaders were not acknowledged and rewarded.

Supporters of former Union minister and a contender for the BPCC chief’s post, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, meanwhile, began shouting counter slogans, even as Choudhary and others were manhandled in the presence of Pradip Bhattacharya, pradesh returning officer (PRO) for the election of delegates.

In the ensuing fisticuffs, kurtas of a few Choudhary’s supporters were also torn. Those denied entry into the BPCC office kept on raising slogans against acting BPCC chief Kaukab Quadri and Akhilesh Prasad Singh. Some party workers were also seen shouting “Narendra Modi zindabad” in front of the BPCC office gate.

Bhattacharya, who is also a Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal, dismissed any irregularity in the election of PCC delegates, saying “total transparency” was maintained. It was unfortunate that some leaders tried to create ruckus during the meeting of PCC delegates, who unanimously authorised the party high command to nominate the new BPCC president, he said.

Choudhary, however, claimed that those who sought to spoil the party’s prospects in 2015 Bihar assembly polls were holding the sway in the BPCC. He alleged that the meeting of PCC delegates was called without issuing the list of elected leaders.

“There were glaring discrepancies in list of declared delegates and those certified by the district returning officers,” Choudhary claimed, saying he had to face the music in the BPCC for trying to protect the interest of leaders “who performed outstandingly in the membership drive”.

The former BPCC chief also alleged that the state unit resorted to undemocratic and unconstitutional ways to deny committed leaders their due. “Ironically, I am being accused of indulging in anti-party activities for raising my voice against injustice,” said Choudhary.

He termed the incident of manhandling of party workers as “most unfortunate” for the party.

At a subsequent joint press conference, Quadri and AICC spokesman Shakeel Ahmad denied the allegation of a scuffle taking place inside the meeting venue. They said the delegates passed a resolution authorising All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi to nominate a new state party chief.

The meeting adopted another resolution seeking elevation of AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi as the next party chief, they added.

Quadri said a five-member committee led by former minister Jyoti had been set up to probe the alleged incident of scuffle inside the hall and sloganeering outside the Sadaquat Ashram. The committee was expected to submit its report next week, he said.

Senior party leaders, including Sadanand Singh, Ashok Kumar and Bhawna Jha, shared the dais with Quadri during the press conference.

Another party leader blamed Choudhary for creating unnecessary commotion during the meeting.

“He (Choudhary) misbehaved with Quadri in his chamber first and then refused to listen to the PRO, who asked him to come to the stage and tell his grievances. But he kept on demanding that the meeting be discontinued until the issues were resolved,” the leader added.

Another leader, Kishore Kumar Jha, termed the meeting “unconstitutional”, claiming that it ought not have taken place until the list of elected delegates was notified. “Many senior leaders, who enrolled a large number of members, were left out, even as those dear to a particular leader were made delegates,” Jha claimed.

First Published: Oct 09, 2017 20:24 IST