Bihar Congress faces another litmus test, from within

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Since Nitish Kumar has formed alliance with BJP, first the JD (U) witnessed a split in the party where one of the founding member and former President of the party Sharad Yadav rebelled against Nitish Kumar and formed another faction with the help of the members supporting him and now another split is possible in Congress in Bihar.

Central office bearers have held two meetings with state Congress leaders and legislators in less than 24 hours in the absence of state president Ashok Chaudhary.

At least 19 of the 27 Bihar Congress MLAs asked Rahul Gandhi to break ties with the RJD. They said Joshi had dissuaded him from stepping down as minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet.

Bihar Congress chief Ashok Chaudhary on Thursday said that some senior leaders in Delhi tasked to handle the state's affairs were conspiring against him and "spreading rumours" that he was trying to split the party.

Some MLAs confessed to Rahul that they had thought of defecting because the state chief reasoned with them about the futility of staying with Lalu Prasad.

Congress MLA Amit Kumar rejected reports of split in party, saying they discussed only future course of action with the party vice-president.

Choudhary said that he is upset with the party's move.

Over the past week, both Rahul and his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi have held separate meetings with almost a dozen rebel MLAs of the party's Bihar unit. If need be, we can get back to RJD prior to 2019 elections to defeat BJP for which Rahul and Sonia should take initiative. "If people think everything would be fine with my ouster, I am ready to leave the post and continue to serve the party", Chaudhary said. Though the JD (U) says it's not "an impossible number", the Congress feels it's an uphill task.

"Sharma also accused RJD of being unfair to the grand old party". As I had some personal engagements, I could not attend the meeting. Chaudhary, a Dalit face of the Congress and an education minister in the previous government, denied the accusation as "false propaganda".

Crucially, Chaudhary is believed to enjoy the support of 14 MLAs and four MLCs in Bihar and need just four more to cross over to the JD (U).

On the other hand, Nitish Kumar has kept a few ministerial positions vacant to lure the members of Congress. Any delay in the decision will give enough room to the RJD chief and force the Congress to accept whatever he offers, they told Gandhi.

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