Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Shakil Ahmed on Tuesday filed his nomination papers in Madhubani, in presence of a host of party leaders,including a couple of MLAs, and expressed hope that he would be allotted the party symbol within the next couple of days failing which he would be contesting as an Independent.
Like Ahmed, senior RJD leader Mohd Ali Ashraf Fatmi might also throw his hat in the ring for Madhubani Lok Sabha seat against the mahagathbandhan nominee hailing from fledgling VIP party.
Ahmed, who had announced his decision to enter the fray on Monday followed by resignation from the post of AICC senior spokesman, filed his nomination papers in two sets one as a candidate of the Congress party and another as an Independent.
“I will wait till April 18. From the positive response I have so far got from the party leadership I am confident that I will be allotted the party symbol. If not, I will withdraw the papers submitted in capacity of the party candidate but will still contest as an Independent,” Ahmed said after submitting his papers.
The Congress leader, who underscored that he had resigned only from a post I hold in the party and not quit the party itself was speaking in presence of supporters including MLAs Bhavana Jha and Amita Bhushan the latter also being the head of the state unit of Mahila Congress.
Defending his decision, Ahmed said I have taken the decision in the interests of the party and in the interests of the Mahagathbandhan. The candidate fielded on behalf of the alliance simply does not have winning potential and it would be like giving a walk over to the BJP-led NDA.
He cited the case of RJD nominees filing nomination against mahagathbandhan candidates hailing from Congress from Chatra in Jharkhand and Supual in Bihar to justify his decision.
Currently represented by BJPs Hukumdev Narayan Yadav whose son Ashok Yadav is in the fray as the party candidate, Madhubani has gone to fledgling outfit Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) in the mahagathbandhan which has fielded a former RJD leader Badrinath Purve.
Ahmed had won the seat in 2004 and finished the runner-up in 2009. He had to give up the seat in 2014 when alliance partner RJD fielded its senior leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui.
With Siddiqui getting a ticket from Darbhanga, notwithstanding the claim of sitting MP Kirti Azad who has been sent to Dhanbad in neighboring Jharkhand, Ahmed who had served as a minister in the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre was hopeful of getting a party ticket from the constituency.
However, speaking in Patna, Congress MLC and senior leader Prem Chandra Mishra claimed efforts are being made to convince Ahmed, a party veteran, to withdraw and not insist on a friendly fight.
He claimed the general view in the party is that if we agree to the demand made by a senior leader like Ahmed, it would open a Pandoras box. Already, former Aurangabad MP Nikhil Kumar has written to the leadership requesting permission for entering the fray for a friendly fight in Karakat. Our MLA Sanjiv Kumar Tunna has expressed similar wish for Supaul.
Meanwhile, in a related development, senior RJD leader Mohd Ali Ashraf Fatmi announced I am resigning from all the posts I hold in the party. I have conveyed my wish to contest from Madhubani to the leadership. If I get no response till April 18, I will file my nomination as an Independent.
A four-time MP from Darbhanga who had served as a minister in the Manmohan Singh government, Fatmi had been hopeful of being considered for Madhubani after Siddiqui was announced the candidate from his seat.