Internal rift in Congress comes to fore

The first day of the Assembly poll here brought in embarrassment for the Congress, as rift between two senior party leaders came to the fore.

State union minister Beni Prasad Verma on Wednesday called P L Punia, Congress MP from Barabanki, an “outsider,” adding that Punia had “no business being here.”

Punia however made light of the remark and said Verma was a senior leader of the party.

He added that the party high command has not canvassed any candidate as a chief ministerial candidate in case Congress registers a victory. The two leaders never enjoyed a good relationship since Punia was appointed chairman of the National Scheduled Caste Commission after his impressive win from the Dalit-dominated Barabanki constituency in the 2009 general election.

Incidentally, Barabanki is Verma’s home district. Verma is an MP from the neighbouring Gonda district.

The leaders are reportedly at war over Verma recommending candidates for poll tickets.

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