The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nitish camp axes George loyalists

Patna, April 13: The faction-ridden Samata Party inched closer to a split when a meeting of the party’s state executive committee, attended by Nitish Kumar’s supporters, adopted a resolution seeking expulsion of two MPs and three legislators owing allegiance to party president George Fernandes.

Moved by former minister Shyam Sunder Singh Dheeraj and adopted unanimously, the resolution demanded the suspension of MPs Raghunath Jha and Brahmanand Mandal, legislators Bhai Birendra, Ganesh Paswan and P.K. Sinha from primary membership for their alleged anti-party activities.

Samata Legislature Party leader Umashankar Singh, also a member of the Fernandes camp, was expelled at the meet. Upendra Kushwaha, a Nitish loyalist, has been temporarily appointed in his place.

Senior Fernandes loyalists, who held a separate meeting at Darbhanga today, dubbed the executive body defunct, saying it was not authorised to initiate the move. “Our struggle against Nitish Kumar is on. We demand his suspension from the party,” said Raghunath Jha, a former state party president.

Nitish today conveyed support to his supporters, saying he would stand by the majority view of the state unit. “I belong to the party and I am bound by its laws,” he said.

Earlier today, the railway minister held a round of talks with his party workers.

Basisth Narayan Singh, convener of the Bihar unit, said the state executive would send the recommendations for suspension to the national executive for prompt action.

The resolution declared that if the national executive failed to act immediately, the state unit would be forced to take a decision. But this invited flak from even some Nitish loyalists — Jehanabad MP Arun Kumar was shouted down by other party leaders when he raised the point at the Samata state council meeting.

The Samata Legislature Party, the state executive and the party’s state council met separately and the resolution was passed by all the three bodies by voice vote.

Nitish was monitoring all the meetings even as he was busy attending programmes in Patna. “The party has passed through several crises but we hope to emerge stronger after we weed out the disturbing elements,” said Kushwaha.

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