Bihar polls 2020: With a 25% strike-rate, Congress’ relevance to allies dwindles

Deccan Chronicle.  | Ashhar Khan

Nation, Politics

Many in party and RJD feel that had the Congress improved its strike-rate, the outcome of elections would have been completely different

Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, left, and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav greet the crowd gathered for an election campaign rally in Hisua, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (All India Congress Committee via AP)

New Delhi: The political capital of the Congress suffered a major dent after it managed to win just about 25 per cent of the seats allotted to it in the alliance with the RJD. This will have serious repercussions for the former party chief, Rahul Gandhi, who is also battling strong resistance from within his party for his leadership bid. Mr Gandhi is seen as the architect of the alliance. Many in the party and the RJD feel that had the Congress improved its strike-rate, the outcome of the Bihar elections would have been completely different.

A senior leader from Bihar Congress who did not wish to be identified told this newspaper, “There were leaders from outside the state running the show who had no idea about Bihar. Several candidates were dropped from the top who had little resonance on the ground.” He further added that the Congress had more Central observers than the number of seats the party has won.

In the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2017, the Congress was in alliance with the Samajwadi Party. It contested 105 seats and won only seven, thus ensuring that the alliance lost miserably.

Now questions are being raised about the Congress being a burden on its alliance partners in states. Many feel that after the Bihar result it will be difficult for the Congress to get a good deal from the DMK in the upcoming Assembly elections of Tamil Nadu where the two parties are slated to contest in alliance. Even in West Bengal, where the Congress is looking at Left parties for potential alliance, the Congress will be on the back-foot in seat-sharing negotiations.

The dismal performance of the party in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat by-polls also suggests that the leadership was not geared up to take the challenge to the BJP.

Though there is no dearth of issues, including farm laws, rising prices, unemployment, the party is unable to connect with the people.

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress could just manage to win eight seats out of the 28 it fought, while in Gujarat it lost all the eight seats. In Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress staged two massive protests over migrant labourer crisis and the Hathras rape incident, the party lost all seven seats.

Just two months back, 23 leaders of the Congress — young and old included — had written to the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, demanding several changes, including elections to the working committee and the post of Congress president. Many saw this as a challenge to Mr Gandhi who is in line to take over from his mother in due course. With the disastrous results in Bihar and bypolls, the chasm within the party is only going to grow and create more troubles for Mr Gandhi. Insiders feel that many more leaders may speak up in the coming days about the functioning of the party.