The Congress piggybacked partners JD(U) and RJD to turn around its Bihar fortunes as Sunday’s vote count trends showed an impressive five-time increase in seats for the party that could manage just four five years ago.
The party is leading in 21 of 41 seats it contested as part of the “mahagathbandhan” or grand alliance, according to latest trends on the Election Commission website.
The outcome will be a big boost for the Congress after a series of electoral setbacks, starting from the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to successive assembly elections. The grand alliance’s victory gives the party more teeth to nail the BJP-led NDA in and outside Parliament.
The mood is upbeat, evident from party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s tweets. “This is a victory of unity over divisiveness. Humility over arrogance. Love over hate. A victory of the people of Bihar,” reads his first.
This follows a congratulatory tweet. “Congratulations to the people of Bihar, to Nitishji, to Laluji, to the Congress leaders &karyakartas & the Mahagathbandhan on this victory.”
Brother-in-law Robert Vadra also posted a message on Facebook. “Congratulations to the secular forces standing together for the change needed in the country. This will give hope n uplift the sentiment in the country. My Best wishes.”
The Congress was on the political margins of Bihar, after having ruled the state for decades till its ouster in 1990 by none other than RJD’s Lalu Prasad, which also marked his chequered march in politics.
Of 324 seats then — reduced to 243 after Jharkhand was carved out in 2000 — the Congress could win 71. It fell to the third spot in the 1995 polls, winning just 29. By then, the BJP has become a formidable force and moved to the second position with 41 seats.
The Congress went further down in the 2000 elections, winning 23 seats. It bagged 10 in alliance with the RJD in 2005 and dropped down to four in 2010 when it contested alone.