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Sonia Gandhi sacks Bihar Congress chief Ashok Choudhury after rumours of possible rift within party

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has sacked Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Choudhury with immediate effect, party spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi confirmed on Tuesday.

According to The Times of India, the Congress party in Bihar is on the verge of a split, as 14 party MLAs have formed an informal group and are planning to cross over to the ruling JD(U). The number is just four short of the magic figure of 18 it needs to formalise a division. Congress has 27 MLAs in Bihar, and a two-thirds split is the minimum required figure.

 Sonia Gandhi sacks Bihar Congress chief Ashok Choudhury after rumours of possible rift within party

File image of Ashok Choudhary. Twitter@AshokChoudhary

Getting hint of a possible split, the central leadership summoned Choudhary and Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Sadanand Singh to New Delhi on 2 September, and Sonia Gandhi, while expressing unhappiness over their failure, asked them to prevent a split.

On 31 August, a report by The Telegraph also said that at least three Congress MLAs had written to the Congress president about Choudhury "fraudulently" taking their signatures on a letter that suggested a split in the legislature party and pledged support to the Nitish Kumar government.

The report said that although the JD(U)-BJP coalition enjoys majority support, a split in Congress may offer Nitish a cushion, while dealing a blow to opponents.

On 11 August, four of the 27 party MLAs had skipped a meeting called by senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia in Patna and demanded the removal of the state chief.

"The post of a party president is in itself a very strong position and he was made a minister too. But he never ever did anything for the party. We have conveyed to Jyotiraditya that change in leadership is required," Congress member Sarwat Jahan Fatima had said then.

In August, a faction of the Bihar Congress led by Choudhury had also decided to not show up for an anti-BJP rally, adding fuel to reports of a possible rift in the party's state unit.

The rally, however, was attended by senior national Congress leaders such as the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and party general secretary CP Joshi.

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Updated Date: Sep 26, 2017 20:48:46 IST