21 January, 2021

George, Derailed

The rivalry between Samata strongmen George and Nitish almost splits the party but for a last-minute compromise

Jitender Gupta
George, Derailed
It had all the makings of a major agitation until the usual spectre of political infighting blunted the edge. The brutal "encounter" killing of three students at the hands of the Patna police last fortnight had the Rabri Devi government fully on the ropes, raising visions among the Opposition of a 1974-like student unrest. But that was not to be.

An intra-party tussle between state Samata Party strongman Nitish Kumar and party president George Fernandes took the punch out of the Opposition protest. At the end of an acrimonious, no-holds-barred week, it was Fernandes who had to yield ground. His pointsman in Bihar and state party unit president Raghunath Jha had to resign after unrelenting pressure from the Nitish camp. At a brief meeting in Delhi on Friday, the Samata parliamentary party decided to appoint Nitish's man Vashishth Narain Singh as the state unit's interim convenor.

Outwardly, it was made out as if a settlement had been reached. "It is a unanimous decision and has the backing of the entire party. We are absolutely united on the issue," said party MP...


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