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Cong to shunt Bhagat rivals

Ranchi, July 11: State Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat has received a shot in the arm as the central leadership has given its go-ahead for implementing key organisational changes ahead of the Assembly elections.

The state unit is now set to oust members of the rival faction led by Rajya Sabha MP Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu from key party posts at the district level, suppressing all voices of dissent at the grassroots level.

Congress national general secretary in charge of Jharkhand B.K. Hariprasad, who held a meeting with senior leaders in Ranchi, said the central leadership had endorsed the state unit’s recommendations for change.

State Congress co-in-charge Tarachand Bhagora, Bhagat, CLP leader Rajendra Prasad Singh and newly appointed observers were also present.

“You will come to know about this (changes) shortly,” Hariprasad said.

According to insiders, several district unit presidents, who have either overstayed their term or have unsatisfactory track records, are to be dropped. This apart, two acting presidents of two districts will be regularised.

Dilip Pradhan, a Bengali minority, is likely to replace Debashish (Debu) Chatterjee in Seraikela-Kharsawan district unit, while Ravindra Jha, who served the Jamshedpur unit for around eight years, will pave the way for Vijay Khan. Also, Shani Shinku will head the Chaibasa unit as Sukhdeo Hembrom is most likely to be dropped. All the three — Chatterjee, Jha and Hembrom — are Balmuchu’s trusted lieutenant.

The most surprising appointment, however, is that of Deepika Pandey Singh, a member of national party vice president Rahul Gandhi’s core team, as the Godda unit president. The national general secretary of Youth Congress is set to replace serving president Vindu Mandal, a close aide of former party MP Furkan Ansari who is also a member of Balmuchu-led faction. Insiders revealed that her name did not figure during initial discussions but the central leadership endorsed her name despite Ansari’s opposition.

Similarly, Surendra Yadav will be appointed Koderma unit head in place of incumbent Nirmal Ojha, while Baljeet Singh Bedi will head Ramgarh district following Mahesh Singh’ departure from the party. Low-profile Ram Narayan will head Simdega unit.

Moreover, Giridih, the home borough of CLP leader and minister Rajendra Prasad Singh, will also see a change of guard. District unit head Bullu Singh, known to be close to the minister, will be replaced by Naresh Verma.

“Rajendra Prasad is part of the faction led by Bhagat. Yet Bhagat suggested the change in Giridih mainly to impress upon the central party leadership that the recommendations were unbiased,” said a senior party leader.

For the same reason, he added, the proposal to make changes in Ranchi district unit headed by Surendra Singh and Ranchi rural unit led by Deokumar Dhan was dropped at the last moment. The two units are controlled by former Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay, who is again close to Balmuchu.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders dropped enough hints to suggest that the party may continue its alliance with the JMM for the coming Assembly elections. “Though, he (Hariprasad) told us that central leadership will take a call on the alliance matter at an appropriate moment but he also made it clear that the Congress is not in a position to fight the polls alone,” a senior leader said.