Stakes for the Congress are perhaps higher than its rivals as well allies in the grand alliance (GA) in the fifth and final phase of the ongoing Bihar assembly election to be held on Thursday.
This round will cover 57 constituencies in nine north-central and northeast districts. Out of the 41 seats the GA allotted to Congress, 12 are in the final round strewn across Seemanchal and Mithilanchal.
The party could not field any candidate in the Kosi region despite demands from Ranjeet Ranjan, the Congress MP from Supaul, a Lok Sabha constituency in the region this phase covers.
Ranjan, the wife of RJD rebel and Jan Adhikar Party MP Pappu Yadav, is one of only two Congress MPs from Bihar. The other is Maulana Asrarul Haque from Kishanganj, in the same region.
The significance of this region is evident from the fact that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited the area twice to address a rally each in the Benipatti (Madhubani), Araria, Kishanganj, Amour (Purnia), Korha and Pranpur (Katihar) assembly seats.
The other seats contested by Congress nominees are Harlakhi (Madhubani), Bahadurganj (Kishanganj), Purnia and Kasba (Purnia), Kadwa and Manihari (Katihar).
Senior Congress leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sachin Pilot, Salman Khurshid, Raj Babbar, V Hanumant Rao and Subodh Kant Sahai have also made rounds of the region and addressed more than 10 rallies in different pockets.
“Our party pins a lot of hope on this region that gave us three of the four MLAs in 2010. We will increase our tally under GA this time,” Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Choudhary said.
All the three sitting MLAs – Javed Ahmad (from Kishanganj), Afaque Alam (Kasba) and Tausif Alam (Bahadurganj) – are seeking re-election.
The Janata Dal-United and Rashtriya Janata Dal, the ally of Congress in GA, are contesting 101 seats each in the 243-member Bihar assembly.