Barely three months ahead of the assembly polls in Jharkhand, the Congress party’s factional feud in the state tumbled out in public, on Friday, with party unit chief Ajoy Kumar resigning from the post and sending a scathing letter to Rahul Gandhi, leveling a slew of allegations against veteran leaders Subodh Kant Sahai, Pradeep Balmuchu and Rameshwar Oraon among others.
The three-page letter from Kumar, a former IPS officer and one of the country’s youngest winners of a gallantry award, says “I can confidently say that the worst criminals look better than some of my colleagues” while he goes on to narrate several incidents of misconduct and intimidation by or at the behest of Congress leaders in the state.
Appointed Jharkhand Congress chief over a year ago, Kumar had been tasked by Rahul Gandhi to revive the party’s fledgling electoral prospects in a state where the organisation had been progressively losing ground to infighting. However, while resigning from the Pradesh Congress chief’s post, Kumar said that after 16 months in the post: “I have now come to see very clearly, some of our party leaders, the likes of Subodh Kant Sahai, Rameshwar Oraon, Pradeep Balmuchu, Chandrashekhar Dubey, Furqan Ansari and several other senior leaders have only sought to grab political posts for personal benefits.”
Referring to the party’s rout in the recent Lok Sabha polls which the Congress had contested in a seemingly formidable pre-poll alliance with Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha for the state’s 14 seats, Kumar says that though in his opinion, “six Congress seats from Jharkhand… were an extremely real possibility”, the party managed to win just one because his colleagues put their interests before the party’s. He alleges that he had to set out to “rebuild” the party in Jharkhand almost from scratch because factional leaders did not cooperate with him and asserts that the revival had begun to bear fruit since the party’s vote share had gone up by 12 per cent in the recent Lok Sabha polls compared to the 2014 election.
Kumar, a former Lok Sabha MP from the Jamshedpur constituency and a confidante of Rahul Gandhi, asserts that he ignored the “insults and roadblocks” that came his way but that his patience gave way after his colleagues recently “hired goons to assault me in the party office".
“Low level gimmicks like hiring transgenders to dance at the party headquarters are encouraged by leaders like Subodh Kant Sahai,” Kumar has alleged in his letter. Sahai is a former Union minister and Congress veteran from Jharkhand.
Kumar says that the Congress, in Jharkhand, has been reduced to a party of “rent seekers” whose only intention is to “grab power, sell tickets and collect money in the name of elections.”
His resignation comes a day ahead of the scheduled meeting of the Congress Working Committee in New Delhi, where the party is likely to decide the next Congress president – a post Rahul Gandhi had quit on May 25 following the party’s humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.
With Jharkhand, along with Haryana and Maharashtra, scheduled for assembly polls later this year, Kumar’s resignation comes as a rude shock to the party which is already in a state of existential crisis across the country with large number of its leaders abandoning ship or toying with the idea of joining the BJP.
While Kumar has, so far, maintained that he will continue to work as a dedicated Congress worker, there are rumours that the BJP is trying to win him over, particularly since his bitter outburst against Congress colleagues is likely to see him further sidelined within the Grand Old Party.