Shakeel Ahmed, a Congress stalwart, has been suspended by the party for playing spoilsport in the Bihar mahagathbandhan's efforts to consolidate anti-BJP votes in Madhubani by filing papers as an Independent. The grand-alliance -- comprising the Congress, Lalu Yadav's RJD and smaller regional parties-- has fielded Badri Kumar Purbey, a former RJD leader who later formed Vikassheel Insaan Party.
"Mr Shakeel Ahmed, ex MP, has been suspended, with immediate effect, from the Congress party for contesting as an Independent candidate from the Madhubani Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar against the party's decision," the party said in a release.
Mr Ahmed was a junior minister in former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet. He also held the post of Congress general secretary, in-charge of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, in 2013.
Mr Ahmed, who had won from the Madhubani in 1998 and 2004, will be facing sitting BJP parliamentarian Hukumdev Narayan Yadav's son Ashok Yadav.
In Bihar, an uneasy alliance of rivals RJD and Nitish Kumar's JDU had pulled a stunning victory over the BJP, ending its winning streak in assembly elections after its landslide win in 2014 general election.
Two years after forming the government, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar dumped Lalu Yadav over corruption allegations. Mr Kumar later joined forces with the BJP, taking the party's support to form a new government in the state.
As Lalu Yadav was jailed after getting convicted in corruption cases, his son Tejashwi Yadav led tough negotiations with the Congress, bagging 20 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. The Congress is contesting in nine seats only.
Voting in Madhubani will take place on Monday in the fifth phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. The results will be declared on May 23.
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