PATNA: In an interesting chain of event, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has over the last few days met with number of opposition Congress’ legislators on Bihar.
Taking note of the situation, Sonia Gandhi met this morning in Delhi with her party’s top leaders from Bihar in order to discuss the growing risk of them ditching the party to join the chief minister.
It is worthwhile pointing that a Congress legislator who phoned him about the damage done by floods in his constituency earned a visit to the area the very next day by Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar alacrity in meeting others from the Congress has not gone unnoticed by its Delhi leadership.
In terms of figures, the Congress has 27 of Bihar’s 243 state legislators or MLAs. They are headed by Ashok Choudhary, who was present at this morning’s meeting in Delhi.
After the session, he claimed that its express purpose was to discuss how to fortify the party’s alliance in Bihar with Lalu Yadav. “Our party is intact,” he said. But the Congress in Bihar feels the association with Lalu Yadav, who is ensnared in a mix of corruption cases with his children, will be punitive when the next election is held — and many party legislators want out.
According to the sources, given that neither Rahul Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi are easily accessible to state leaders, the consult is a giveaway of the fault-lines that are strengthening. They point out that it was Sonia Gandhi and her team and not the Bihar branch that sought the meeting to ward off a crisis. “This talk of MLAs quitting is hypothetical and I can’t comment on this,” pointed out senior Congress leader CP Joshi, who attended the meeting.
Till few months back, the Congress and Lalu Yadav were partners with Nitish Kumar in the Bihar government. But the chief minister, who had been signalling a growing chumminess with the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suddenly called off the entire arrangement, pinning his decision on the corruption charges.