Bihar

Bihar Assembly Elections | Congress finds no hope, remains the ‘weakest link’

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses an election rally in Bihar’s West Champaran on October 28, 2020.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses an election rally in Bihar’s West Champaran on October 28, 2020.

The Congress on Tuesday lived up to the tag of being the ‘weakest link’ in the Mahagathbandhan (“grand alliance”), with the party losing out on most of the 70 seats it contested as part of this alliance.

With the Congress’ “non-performance” rather than its performance becoming the point of debate, a senior leader claimed that the party had “contested” seats where the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had a 95% strike rate.

Bihar Assembly Elections 2020 results | Live updates

But the party’s poor performance will certainly bring its leadership question to the fore again. Bihar was the first State that went to polls after the open revolt by a group of 23 leaders, who questioned the party’s functioning under the Gandhis.

Questions will not only be raised about the party’s strategy, but may also delay the return of Rahul Gandhi as party president, something that’s being pushed by a younger group of leaders.

A complete washout in Uttar Pradesh and a near wipe-out in Madhya Pradesh will also put a question mark on the party’s ability to be a player in the Hindi heartland States.

Bihar Assembly Elections 2020 | Full coverage

Going forward, the disappointment in Bihar will demoralise party workers in States like Kerala and Assam, where the Congress is keen to make a political comeback in the next round of Assembly polls, barely six months away.

Until the filing of this report, the party was holding on to 20 of the 70 seats it contested as part of the Mahagathbandhan (MGB), and had clearly failed to capitalise on the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) anti-incumbency. In 2015, when the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) was part of the MGB, the party had won 27 of the 41 seats it was allotted.

“Whenever the JD(U) and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) come together, they become a deadly combination based on their caste and social composition. For example, in 2010, when the BJP and the JD(U) fought the election together, they won 65 out of 70 seats. These 70 seats are traditionally non- UPA (United Progressive Alliance)/non-Congress seats, where the strike rate of our opponents (NDA) is more than 95%,” a senior Congress leader said.

But even before the elections started, when the party announced its first list of 21 candidates, there were allegations of impropriety and of tickets being given to candidates for considerations other than winnability.

Bihar Assembly Elections 2020 | Constituency-wise results

“We were totally depending on Tejashwi Yadav and the Muslim-Yadav combination to see us through. Neither did we have a strong local leader nor a powerful narrative of our own,” Kishore Jha, senior Congress leader from Bihar, told The Hindu .

Owaisi factor

In the Seemanchal regions/districts like Kishanganj, Araria, Katihar and Purnea, where Muslim populations range between 70% and 40%, Asaduddin Owaisi’s party, the AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen) dented the Congress’ prospects by fielding 14 candidates in seats with a substantial Muslim population. “The Seemanchal region damaged us the most as we had 10 seats here in the 2015 Assembly polls, but are down to three this time,” Mr. Jha said.


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Printable version | May 18, 2022 1:25:03 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/bihar-assembly/bihar-assembly-elections-congress-finds-no-hope-remains-the-weakest-link/article33069190.ece