Congress workers in the middle of the fracas at the party meeting in Ranchi on Sunday. (Hardeep Singh)
Ranchi, July 1: Infighting in the state unit of Congress came to the fore today, as workers said to be in opposing camps with loyalty to either Subodh Kant Sahay or Pradeep Balmuchu hurled abuses and threw chairs at each other during a review meeting at the party office.
While a section of Congress workers were of the view that Sahay, the Union tourism minister and Ranchi MP, was squarely responsible for the party’s humiliating defeat at the just concluded Hatia Assembly by-election, the others questioned the organiser, Kamta Upadhyay’s authority to call the meeting.
Soon after the result of the Hatia bypoll was announced, the Congress’s Ranchi Mahanagar unit president Surendra Singh had offered to put down his papers. But his resignation has not yet been accepted.
He even went on to postpone today’s review citing personal reasons, but Upadhyay, who is his deputy, decided to preside over the meet arguing that he now happened to be the officiating head of the district unit.
While Singh is popularly known as a Sahay loyalist, Upadhyay is said to be a supporter of state party unit president and Rajya Sabha MP Balmuchu.
A bunch of die-hard supporters of Sahay led by Kishore Shahdeo were not ready to calm down easily. They first questioned Upadhyay’s authority to call the meeting. Sahay’s detractors too challenged them in turn.
After a heated exchange of words, including abuses, they started shoving each other and throwing chairs. The meeting hall gradually turned into a battlefield.
As news spread like wild fire, newspersons, especially those belonging to the electronic media, rushed in to capture the scene.
However, sensing trouble, senior Congress members such as Alok Dube persuaded the rival partymen to cool down and let the meeting continue.
A section of party workers elaborated on how Sahay was responsible for the sorry state of affairs of the Congress in Jharkhand.
The other group went on arguing that Sahay’s brother Sunil’s candidature was also backed by senior leaders such as Balmuchu and Congress legislature party leader Rajendra Prasad Singh.
The meeting remained inconclusive.
Speaking to newspersons later, Upadhyay said indiscipline in the party organisation would not be tolerated. “We will send detailed reports of the incident to the state president,” he added.
Singh, on the other hand, claimed that neither he nor his supporters use filthy language or indulge in muscle power. But he conceded that a minor scuffle broke out, as they had to react in self-defence.
Dube suggested, “An extensive review of the Hatia bypoll should be done at the earliest, or else our workers will keep fighting with each other like this and ruin the party’s image. Everyone should be given a fair opportunity to air his view and the party should take decisions accordingly.”
State Congress general secretary Anadi Brahma said a majority of the participants at today’s meeting were not actively involved in the Hatia bypoll. Some only claimed that they had campaigned for the party candidate. Further, party candidate Sunil Sahay was not present.
“How can one arrive at conclusions without talking to the candidate? The state unit president should call a review meeting at the earliest so that all categories of party workers, especially those who were actively involved during the by-poll, get ample opportunities to air their views. Whatever happened today was really very unfortunate,” he added.