Senior Congress leader Ashok Choudhary who was removed on Tuesday from the post of state unit chief today broke down at a press conference where he said that he was removed "in an insulting manner" because he belonged to the Dalit community.
Choudhary accused AICC general secretary C P Joshi of hatching a "conspiracy" against him. Choudhary claimed that he came to know about his removal through the media.
“The unceremonious removal of a dalit person, whose two generations worked for nurturing and strengthening of the Congress in Bihar, is very insulting and unfortunate," Choudhary was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
"I really feel hurt on being removed in an insulting manner. No senior central leader telephoned me to convey the decision,” he said.
Choudhary, a prominent Dalit leader and former Bihar Cabinet minister, was on Tuesday removed amid reports of a possible split in the Bihar Congress, which a section of the party alleged was being spearheaded by him.
Speaking to reporters in Patna today, he said Joshi, the AICC in-charge of Bihar affairs, hatched a conspiracy to place his "favourite" on the state chief's chair.
Choudhary alleged that C P Joshi, for last six months, has been feeding misinformation to the high command that he is trying to split the party.
"Every dog has its day...Today, he (Joshi) proved weightier against me, tomorrow I might be so against him," Choudhary, who is an MLC, told reporters.
He alleged that "the man responsible for downfall of the Congress in Assam and West Bengal" was now eyeing the same for the party in Bihar and added that he would meet Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to tell him about "Joshi's acts".
Choudhary is the son of veteran Dalit leader Mahavir Choudhary and a prominent Dalit leader himself. He was the education minister in the Grand Alliance government led by Nitish Kumar. He lost his cabinet chair after Nitish Kumar dumped the alliance that included the JD(U), the Congress and the RJD.
Nitish later formed a coalition government with the BJP. There were reports that Nitish was courting few of the Congress MLAs to strengthen his position in the coalition and Choudhary was in contact with the Chief Minister.
The Congress won 27 seats in the 2015 state assembly poll. The party has six members in the state legislative council, including Choudhary, himself.
Choudhary had, however, dismissed the allegation of his attempt to break the party as "part of the conspiracy to show me the door".
Asked about his future course of action, he said, "I'm a committed Congress man and will remain so."
Kaukab Quadri assumes charge as PCC chief
Meanwhile, Kaukab Quadri, PCC vice-president and a low key leader who was made the interim chief of the party in Bihar by AICC chief Sonia Gandhi after the removal of Choudhary, assumed the post at Sadaquat Ashram today.
No prominent leader or legislator could be spotted at the state party headquarters when he was taking charge.
Later, talking to reporters, Quadri said, "Replacement of any person in any post is a normal process in any party."
Asked about a few Congress legislators expressing reservation against a tie-up with RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, he said, "Statements of one or two leaders do not hold much relevance."
On Choudhary harping on his Dalit background after the ouster, Qadri said, "It is the same party which put him in a high position."
NDA leaders support Choudhary
Choudhary's ouster drew reactions in his favour from the BJP and the JD(U).
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said, "Removal of a Dalit leader in an insulting manner has not sent a good message among people."
"This is the reason behind the 'durgati' (pitiable condition) of Congress in the country," Sushil, a senior BJP leader, claimed.
Former chief minister and leader of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Jitan Ram Manjhi also criticised the removal of Choudhary.
JD(U) chief state spokesman Sanjay Singh said, "The Congress had served as B team of Lalu Prasad in the past and intends to play the same role in the state again."
RJD spokesman Mritunjay Tiwari, however, welcomed Quadri 's appointment.
(With PTI inputs)