The incumbent, Madan Mohan Jha, had tendered his resignation in April 2022.
New Delhi: The Congress’ Bihar unit, which is headless since April, will be getting a new state president by this month end. The incumbent, Madan Mohan Jha, after serving at the post for four years, had tendered his resignation in April 2022. Since then, the Congress state leadership and the Central leadership have been deliberating upon a new chief.
Senior state Congress leaders told The Sunday Guardian that among the names that are being considered by the team of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi for the said post are: Rajesh Kumar Ram, Vijay Shankar Dubey, Akhilesh Singh and Tariq Anwar. The name will be decided on the basis of an internal election which, party leaders say, will be a formality.
The 53-year-old Ram, who is a Dalit MLA from the reserved seat of Kutumba (Aurangabad), has the backing of Bhakt Charan Das, the state in-charge, but is facing a significant level of protests from other senior state leaders.
The 74-year-old Dubey, a Brahmin by caste, is a MLA from Maharajganj, Siwan.
Akhilesh Prasad Singh, 60, who is a Bhumihar, is right now a Rajya Sabha MP since 2018. He had joined the Congress in 2010 after resigning from the RJD just before the Assembly elections. Singh has been a Union minister in the UPA-1 Cabinet.
The 71-year-old Tariq Anwar, who is presently a general secretary in the party, is considered to be among the most acceptable faces among the party leaders, as he has been associated with the party since the JP revolution. Even when he founded the NCP along with Sharad Pawar and P.A. Sangma, after resigning from the Congress, he maintained his cordial relationship with Congress leaders.
Anwar rejoined the Congress in 2018 after Pawar gave a clean chit to the BJP government in the Rafale controversy.
Due to his rich political background and diverse network and his ability to keep in touch with people on the ground, Anwar is being recommended by certain sections of Bihar-based leaders as Akhilesh Singh, the other strong claimant, has a reputation of being an “inaccessible leader”.
Party leaders said that the leadership was considering the caste matrix of state politics while deciding who should replace Jha, who is a Brahmin.
In the November 2020 elections, the party won 19 of the 70 seats that it contested in an alliance with the RJD-led alliance and got a vote share of 9.48%.
“Earlier, we used to get the maximum support of the Brahmin and the Rajputs, but then our focus shifted to the backward castes and Muslims due to which our traditional supporters moved to the BJP. Now, we have to decide how to strike a balance as we cannot be seen as a party that is obsessed with any specific caste or community, a handicap which the JDU, the RJD and the BJP faces. We need to give the helm to someone who is not inclined to one particular caste or group,” a senior Congress leader who has been handling the party affairs since the last one year told The Sunday Guardian.
According to another leader, who has been given a crucial role in Bihar, the party should ideally appoint only one president and not repeat the system of appointing multiple working presidents.
“This system, of appointing multiple working presidents, hurts the party’s interest in the long run. Rather than working on strengthening the party and the president, the working presidents start spending more time devising ways to weaken each other and the president as they start considering themselves as competitors rather than companions. A party president who has the backing of the central leadership is needed rather than a team of presidents and working presidents silently fighting each other,” the leader said.
Incidentally, on Friday, the Congress announced seven working presidents in Gujarat, a state which goes to polls in December this year. The party unit is headed by Jagdish Thakor.
According to Bihar-based state leaders, media reports that Rahul Gandhi was planning to appoint Kanhaiya Kumar as the state president does not hold much water, as such a move will see a massive protest from the state leaders who, in the past, have indulged in violent action at Sadqat Ashram, the party’s state office at Patna, in the past when any such “illogical” decisions have been taken.