Post Bihar, Congress may find it difficult in bargains for seats

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The most immediate fallout of the Congress’s non-performance in Bihar will be its ability to strike future alliances and bargain for seats in the next round of elections in crucial States such as West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam where polls are barely six months away.

Though the Central Committee of the CPI(M), the party’s highest decision-making body, agreed to a seat-sharing arrangement with Congress in Bengal, there are calls for a rethink in some quarters.

Also read: Bihar Assembly election | Grand Alliance lost because of Congress’ poor performance, says Tariq Anwar

“Every party is free to decide its course of action but the Left parties should remember that in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, we managed to win at least two seats. The Left that contested on the 42 seats in the State managed to save their deposit only in one seat”, West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told The Hindu on Friday.

“If we fight separately, then it will impact both the parties in Bengal”, he noted.

Dipankar Bhattacharya’s charge

Mr. Chowdhury’s assertion comes after CPI (Marxist-Leninist) leader Dipankar Bhattacharya charged the Congress with trying to play the big brother’s role and asserted that any subservience to them would be suicidal to the Left Front in Bengal.

Also read: Bihar Assembly Elections | Congress, RJD too scared to talk about CAA, NRC: Asaduddin Owaisi

He cited the Congress’s less than 30 % strike rate in Bihar that allowed it to win only 19 of the 70 seats it contested. He said, “Every election is different and in the 2016 Bengal Assembly elections, we were given 92 of the 294 seats. We won 44 seats. The Left Front contested 202 seats and won 33 seats”.

But the Congress’s recent track record in alliances is hardly anything to be mentioned about. In the Maharashtra Assembly polls last year, it contested 147 seats but won only 44, while its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), won 54 of the 121 seats it contested.

In the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the party contested 114 seats in alliance with the Samajwadi Party but won only seven seats.

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

Given this record, the party will find it tough to bargain when it seeks to stitch stitch alliances in Bengal and Tamil Nadu where elections are expected around April-May along with Kerala and Assam.

In 2016, the Congress contested in 40 seats as part of the DMK-led alliance but managed to bag only eight and had a strike rate of less than 20 per cent. Reports suggest that poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who is advising the DMK, may not be keen to have the Congress on board for the 2021 battle.

DMK on ties

However, DMK’s leader in the Lok Sabha T.R. Baalu told The Hindu that there was no rethink on the alliance with the Congress. “Our alliance is very much intact, but on issues such as the number of seats, my leader will decide closer to the time of elections”, he said.

Downplaying the Congress’s performance in Bihar, its Lok Sabha member Karti Chidamabaram tweeted, “Elections are like a tennis match. Each set is independent of the other. In TN the @INCIndia @INCTamilNadu is a multiplier not a mere addition. The alliance with @arivalayam [DMK] is a winning combo. The presence of the Cong in an alliance enhances it's secular & inclusive credentials".

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 2:09:12 PM |

Next Story