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Bihar alliance in crisis as Congress Shakeel Ahmed, RJD’s Fatmi break away

Four-time Darbhanga MP, Mohammad Ali Ashraf Fatmi of RJD and former union minister-cum-Congress party’s senior spokesperson, Shakeel Ahmad have turned renegades and will contest the Lok Sabha polls as independent candidates.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 16, 2019 20:06 IST
Bishnu K Jha
Bishnu K Jha
Hindustan Times. Madhubani/Darbhanga
Lok Sabha elections 2019,General elections 2019,Election news
Shakeel Ahmad gave up the Congress party’s national spokesperson post and filed his nomination papers on Tuesday forenoon as an independent candidate from Madhubani Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar,(Twitter)

The crisis in the Grand Alliance (GA) deepened on Tuesday with two top leaders of the RJD and Congress giving up their party positions to contest the Lok Sabha elections as independent candidates.

Four-time Darbhanga MP, Mohammad Ali Ashraf Fatmi of RJD and former union minister-cum-Congress party’s senior spokesperson, Shakeel Ahmad have turned renegades and would be contesting the prestigious Madhubani seat that has gone into the share of Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP) making its political debut this election.

While Ahmad, who gave up the Congress party’s national spokesperson post, filed his nomination papers on Tuesday forenoon, Fatmi, who relieved himself from all the positions he had held in the RJD, said he would be filing his nomination as an independent from the same seat on Thursday.

But neither Ahmad nor Fatmi have resigned from their parties. Having taken the big leap, the two leaders are now staring at imminent disciplinary action by their parties.

“Contesting elections is the democratic right of a politician. You cannot forcibly hold anyone to a party. But if any leader goes against the party’s decisions, he would be liable for disciplinary action that would include six years of complete ban from rejoining the party,” said RJD’s leader of opposition, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, sending a clear signal to Fatmi that should not consider himself indispensable.

The RJD is contesting 20 of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats while the Congress fighting in nine seats as part of the Grand Alliance.

Ahmad after filing his nomination papers pinned hope that the party leadership will be considerate to him and would give him the Congress symbol to go for a ‘friendly contest’ . “I have tendered my resignation as party’s senior spokesperson so that my comments are not attributed to that of Congress,” he said, while giving a clear signal that he was prepared for any action the party might take against him.

Fatmi said he is still hopeful of a positive response from the party. “I have resigned from all the positions including the member, parliamentary board and RJD’s national council, though I haven’t resigned from party yet. I shall wait for a positive response from my party leadership till April 18, which happens to be the last date for filing nominations for Madhubani seat. In case they do not give me the party symbol, I will contest as an independent candidate.”

Fatmi also made a significant statement that he would give a ‘second thought’ to his contesting elections only if Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad managed to get party symbol.

Ahmad, who represented Madhubani seat twice in 1998 and 2004, said his decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate would not end his long association with the party. “Even if I win as an independent, I shall remain a loyal Congressman and would continue to strengthen the hands of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.”

Earlier in the day, Ahmad in a tweet said he was sending his resignation as party senior spokesperson to his party chief.

Later, addressing a large gathering of his supporters before filing his nomination, Ahmad said that Grand Alliancs had fielded a weak candidate in Madhubani which would have meant a cakewalk for BJP candidate here. Ahmad was flanked by Congress MLA from Benipatti, Bhawana Jha.

Ahmad pointed out that a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supported candidate was contesting against Congress candidate Ranjit Ranjan in Supaul. “If RJD can support a candidate against an official Congress candidate, then why can’t the Congress do the same in Madhubani?”

Ashok Yadav, son of senior BJP sitting MP Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav, is the BJP candidate in Madhubani. Badri Purve, considered to be an RJD import, is the Vikashseel Insaan Party (VIP) nominee.

Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president, Madan Mohan Jha said he was out of state and unaware about the latest developments in Madhubani. “It would not be appropriate for me to make any statement without knowing the exact details at this point of time. Let me gather all the information,” he said when asked about his reaction to Ahmad filing nomination as an independent candidate.

First Published: Apr 16, 2019 20:06 IST