Congress leader Akhilesh Prasad Singh is likely to become the next BPCC president, when organisational elections are completed for the grand old party’s Bihar unit, tentatively by 15 October, top sources in the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee told The Sunday Guardian. The other name in the fray is that of Madan Mohan Jha. The sources further said that sacked BPCC president Ashok Choudhary may desert the party along with nine MLAs.

“Akhilesh Prasad Singh’s name seems to be final for BPCC president. Once the organisational polls are over, an announcement will be made,” a top BPCC source told this reporter. When asked about other possible contenders for the post—Prem Chandra Mishra, Anil Sharma and Madan Mohan Jha—the source clarified that though Madan Mohan Jha is also a front runner, Akhilesh Singh is going to take on the mantle of the BPCC unless the high command makes any last moment revision.

The source said: “The BPCC is going through a transitional phase and there is an urgency to maintain the gains made during the 2015 Assembly elections in the state. Akhilesh Singh has the charisma and the clout to hold on the Congress’ regional team and put up a brave fight in the 2019 general elections.”

Hailing the high command’s decision of relieving Ashok Choudhary as BPCC president and designating BPCC vice president Kaukab Quadri as the interim president, Manoj Kumar Singh, AICC national coordinator and BPCC delegate said, “The timely intervention of the Congress high command will save the party from internal conflict. We thank both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for neutralising Ashok Choudhary’s attempts to disintegrate the party in Bihar. We will welcome whoever the high command elects BPCC president and work to make the Congress stronger at the grassroots before 2019.”

Manoj Singh also blasted Choudhary for making uncomplimentary remarks about the high command in a press conference held on Wednesday. “Choudhary’s language was demeaning. No BPCC president has ever spoken so derogatorily of the party. He is clearly working at the diktats of the BJP and the JDU,” Manoj Singh told this newspaper.

The Congress on Tuesday relieved its BPCC president for four-and-a-half years, Ashok Choudhary, who had been in news for trying to defect to JDU along with 14 MLAs. It was only recently that senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia had visited the state to foil the defection bid, but there was pressure on the high command to sack the mutinous Choudhary, who also served as the Education minister of Bihar in the Grand Alliance government that collapsed on 26 July.

Akhilesh Singh, who has been a former Union minister, jumped ship from the RJD to the Congress and lost from Muzaffarpur in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. When asked about intra-party discontent over an “outsider” being given the top post in the BPCC, the source said: “There are bound to be hiccups, but the high command’s decision is going to be final. These contentions have been resolved already.”

Meanwhile, sources said that Choudhary is likely to break away from the party with as many as nine MLAs. They clarified to this newspaper that media reports of Choudhary having the support of 16 or 19 MLAs are not true.

“Unfortunately, it will be difficult for us to initiate anti-defection law against the defecting MLAs. There is Nitish Kumar’s government and we suspect when the matter reaches the Assembly Speaker, the Speaker will merely constitute a committee to investigate the matter, which will then drag on till the 2019 elections,” Manoj Sngh rued.

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