Differences in the Bihar Congress over fighting the upcoming assembly elections in alliance or contesting them independently came to the fore at a meeting chaired by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday.
Senior leaders Ranjeeta Ranjan, Anil Sharma and Akhilesh Pratap Singh strongly advocated the go-it-alone policy, arguing that contesting in alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad would hurt Congress prospects.
However, the central leadership ruled out any rethink on the decision to contest the polls in alliance with the Janata Dal (United) and the RJD.
The leaders insisted that it was “too late now” to fight the polls alone as the move could backfire and impact the party’s poll outcome. “There are chances that many of our candidates might forfeit their security deposits… It would have been prudent to take the decision of fighting alone a year back…not now,” a senior leader said.
Another argument was that the top leadership had indicated “well in advance” that Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar could be the potential alliance partner of the Congress. “That is why the move to burn his effigies was not allowed a year ago,” he added.
The Congress, however, maintained that it would demand more than 40 seats from the two major partners. “Anything less than 40 seats won’t be acceptable to us,” a senior Bihar Congress leader said.
It was also decided that senior leader Nikhil Kumar would “vet” the names of candidates recommended by groups opposed to present state unit chief Ashok Chowdhary.