On the heels of Congress party’s State president Ajoy Kumar’s dramatic exit, the senior leadership of the party here has started pondering over finding a face that can lead the party to the upcoming assembly elections. While Kumar’s three-page rant to the party’s high command on Friday has left several veteran Congress leaders red faced in Jharkhand, some of the leaders Kumar shared an amicable connection with are likely to replace him at the helm of affairs, party insiders said on Sunday.
Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Alamgir Alam and Lohardaga legislator Sukhdeo Bhagat are leading the race for the position of the Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee (JPCC) president so far, said a senior office bearer, who has been in the thick of events lately. Both Alam and Bhagat are said to be in the good books of Kumar. In fact, Alam was one of the few leaders Kumar had praised in his resignation letter otherwise riddled with critical rhetoric against the who’s who of the party here.
“Alamgir Alam has been actively involved in managing the crisis in JPCC lately. He was also among the few local politicians who had met leaders in the high command after things went out of control in Ranchi,” said a Congress legislator from Jharkhand. He, however, refused to be named citing the growing differences and lobbyism within the party as a reason for him to keep his comments off record.
Many heavy weights, who were hoping to replace Kumar, may not even be considered for the hot seat due to the rampant mudslinging within the party since the 17th General Elections. Former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay, former JPCC president Pradeep Balmucchu and former MP Rameshwar Oraon were among the staunch critics of Kumar during his term as the president of JPCC. Their bad blood with Kumar was evident in his resignation letter. “It is highly unlikely for the party to choose any person from the lobby that stood against Kumar. In order to maintain peace within the party, the high command will go with a person who has maintained a neutral stand,” said a senior office bearer from Congress Bhavan in Ranchi.
Bhagat, who led the party in the 2014 elections, is also one of the candidates in fray. Sources said that Bhagat’s neutral stand and tribal background may work in his favour during the selection process.
The Congress party here ran into rough weather after tasting a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and Kumar found himself in the crosshairs of fellow Congress leaders. The party leadership was evidently divided over the choice of a captain for the upcoming assembly elections here, slated later this year. Last month, supporters of Kumar and former union minister Subodh Kant Sahay locked horns at the State headquarters of the party in Ranchi and the tiff between them transformed into an ugly scuffle, which broke open the lid of bottled up differences within the party and grabbed the attention of the party’s high command in New Delhi.