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Feud in Cong over poll panel

Ranchi, July 3: Two major factions in the state Congress are at loggerheads over the proposed election campaign committee (ECC) for the coming Assembly elections.

The party’s central leadership is learnt to have instructed the state unit to form a committee, which will look after poll strategy, campaigning and ticket distribution etc., within a fortnight.

During a series of meetings with party’s central leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday, state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat suggested that a non-tribal leader should be appointed head of the committee — a proposal that former state unit chief and Rajya Sabha MP Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu vehemently opposed.

Sources close to Bhagat confided that the proposal for a non-tribal leader was mooted keeping in mind general caste voters, who have been gradually moving away from the party. “A non-tribal leader may instill confidence in general caste people,” a party leader added.

However, those in the rival camp are seeing a conspiracy in it.

According to sources, Balmuchu, who has been at odds with Bhagat, is keen on heading the committee. The Rajya Sabha MP is heading a group of dissidents, including Subodh Kant Sahay, Rameshwar Oraon, Furkan Ansari and Dhiraj Prasad Sahu — all of them lost from their respective constituencies in the general elections and want to regain prominence through the Assembly polls.

“As of now, Bhagat has only suggested that a non-tribal leader may be considered, he has not mentioned any name. However, the election campaign committee will become the most powerful body during the polls. They (both factions) believe that one who heads the panel will not only have the last say in ticket distribution but will also be considered as the chief ministerial candidate,” a senior party leader said.

Ground reports suggest that the party is unlikely to get a respectable tally in Jharkhand in the elections to bag the chief minister’s seat. But insiders claim that the leaders were actually fighting to secure their future in the party.

The two factions have sparked the controversy at a time when the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has decided to move away from the practice of deploying high-profile leaders to supervise party activities in the state.

During the two-day meeting in Delhi, the AICC approved a list of around 18 leaders from three neighbouring states — Bihar, Odisha and Chhattisgarh — who as a full-timer will look after the organisational activities in all 24 districts of Jharkhand.

“Bihar leaders are likely to be appointed observers of the districts bordering Bihar. In the same way, leaders from Odisha and Chhattisgarh will look after the districts sharing borders with the states, respectively,” state Congress chief Bhagat said.


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