Even as the question of the number of seats each Grand Alliance constituent will contest in the coming Bihar Assembly elections is yet to be settled, disgruntled voices are being heard within the Congress over the alleged sidelining of leaders belonging to the backward classes.
However, a senior leader of the Congress has rubbished the claims and asserted that the party likes to take along all segments of society.
A Congress source said that the issue was raised at the July 15 meeting of the Bihar State Election Committee and the State Working Committee, but the leaders were not allowed to speak up.
Working Committee member and former Congress Bihar unit chief Kailash Pal has consequently resigned from all party posts.
He said that the party should not forget that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has remained in power for 15 years in Bihar in the past due to the Muslim-Yadav alliance.
Kailash Pal said that the Congress had been pushed to the margins in Bihar politics as the party ignored the interests of Backward Class and Extremely Backward Class. “If the Congress wishes to pursue the politics of upper castes and bring them to its camp from the BJP, it will have to leave its alliance with the RJD,” he remarked.
Giving an example, he said that when the government was formed in 2015 by the Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, the latter had got three slots in the council of ministers, which went to two representatives of the forward castes, one Dalit and one Muslim.
Similarly, the Congress state unit chief was chosen from among the forward castes. Two of the four working heads were chosen from the forward castes, one was a Dalit and one a Muslim, he said.
Another Congress leader, who wished not to be identified, said that many leaders from the backward class were denied party tickets in the 2015 Assembly elections.
He said that only 10 to 12 per cent of the 41 seats contested by the Congress at that time had backward class candidates, as against more than 50 per cent of population of Bihar which belonged to the BCs/OBCs/EBCs.
Senior Congress leader Vijay Shankar Mishra denied the allegations and said that many of the youth leaders in his party at present hailed from these communities.
BJP spokesman Dr Nikhil Anand claimed that the Congress had historically been against the OBCs and EBCs and had opposed the Karpuri and Mandal commission recommendations on reservation. “OBC leader Sitaram Kesri was a duly-elected Congress President, but he was humiliated. He was not spared even in death,” Anand remarked.
The BJP leader claimed that the OBCs and EBCs will never support the Congress and advised the latter’s allies like the RJD and Vikassheel Insaan Party to mull their conflicting politics in this backdrop. (IANS)