Bihar Assembly Elections | Wary of poaching bid, Congress deputes two leaders to Patna

Randeep Surjewala. File photo: Sandeep Saxena  

A day after exit polls predicted the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led Grand Alliance to be ahead of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Bihar Assembly election, the Congress on Sunday sent two senior leaders to Patna to “prevent any attempt at poaching”.

Also read: Bihar Assembly Elections | Exit polls predict clear edge for Mahagathbandhan

Party president Sonia Gandhi stationed general secretary Randeep Surjewala and senior leader Avinash Pande in Patna to oversee the counting-day developments on Tuesday and coordinate with the candidates.

Sources said the move was to avoid a repeat of Manipur and Goa Assembly elections in 2017 in which Congress MLAs switched sides soon after results and “helped” the BJP form governments in these States despite the Congress emerging as the single largest party in the elections.

The Congress move is indicative of the Opposition’s expectation of a close contest

Also read: Bihar Assembly Elections | RJD warns its workers against celebratory firing, ‘uncivil behaviour’ on result day

A source said the Congress’s plan was to summon the winning candidates from their respective constituencies soon after the results and put them in a Patna hotel.

“A hotel in Patna has already been identified where we will keep our MLAs together,” said the source, adding that the Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Punjab are also being considered to keep the MLAs.

Of the 243 Assembly seats, the Congress is contesting 70 and is expecting to win 40 to 45.

Following the encouraging exit polls, the RJD cautioned its party workers to behave with restraint on the day of the results.

“All the workers should remember: irrespective of the outcome on November 10, the results have to be accepted with restraint and humility and courteously. Improper fireworks, celebratory firing, rude behaviour with opponents or their supporters will not be acceptable at any cost,” read the message on RJD’s official Twitter handle.

“Irrespective of the outcome, your politics should be defined by public welfare and their uplift,” another tweet from the party said.

Also read: Bihar Assembly Elections | All set for November 10 as State awaits poll results

The exit polls also prompted former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to tweet that people of Bihar will send a clear message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that issues like jobs, inflation, healthcare are important electoral issues.

“I believe the people of Bihar will send a clear message that they are more concerned with jobs, food, healthcare, inflation, fair prices for farmers, infrastructure and industrial development. Will the PM hear their voices,” Mr. Chidambaram asked.

“Mr. Modi believes that he can win every election on Hindutva, Ram temple, Pulwama, repeal of Article 370, CAA, and branding every Opposition party and Opposition leader as anti-national,” he added.

Comparing India’s political discourse with that of the U.S., he said every Indian Prime Minister should speak the way U.S. President-elect Joe Biden spoke in his victory acceptance speech.

“The Indian nation is as divided as the United States. President-elect Biden’s thanksgiving speech is the kind of speech that we want to hear from every Indian Prime Minister,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 1:06:53 AM |

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