Congress includes dissenting leaders in Bihar campaign


Of the 243 Assembly seats, the Congress is contesting 70 seats in an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Left parties.

The Congress on Saturday sent a list of 30 star campaigners to the Election Commission (EC) for the first phase of the Bihar Assembly polls. The list includes leaders who had questioned the party’s leadership through a letter in August.

The list, issued by general secretary K.C. Venugopal, included Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad, Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Raj Babbar, who were part of Group of 23 who had questioned the leadership, as well Sachin Pilot who had rebelled against Rajashthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

Apart from Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the names include film-star-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, former cricketer and MP Kirti Azad and popular Urdu poet Imran Pratapgarhi.

Other senior leaders who have been mentioned in the list include Meira Kumar, Randeep Surjewala and Nikhil Kumar among others.

Ms. Gandhi and Dr. Singh, however, are unlikely to travel to Bihar in the midst of the pandemic and the party may instead opt for digital rallies for them.

The former party chief is likely to be principal campaigner for the Congress even though Mr. Gandhi’s election tour programme is yet to be finalized, said a source.

Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled States including Amarinder Singh (Punjab), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) will also be part of the opposition campaign.

Of the 243 Assembly seats in the State, the Congress is contesting 70 seats in an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Left parties. The RJD is leading the coalition and will field candidates in 144 seats.

The Congress has, so far, announced only 21 names. The party’s central election committee will meet on Monday to finalise names for the remaining 49 seats.

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