The Congress has decided not to come out with its manifesto for Bihar elections, a first for the party in any state in recent years, as part of the strategy to project a united front against the BJP-led coalition.
Instead, the party will give its inputs for the common minimum programme (CMP) of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) that the Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress are planning to bring out soon.
“It is a conscious decision. We are part of a grand, formidable, consolidated and winnable alliance. This is the first time in the history of alliances that a chief ministerial contender has declared the names of all the candidates,” Bihar Congress chief Ashok Chowdhary told HT.
It was in Patna on September 23 that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had announced the names of 242 out of the total 243 candidates of the grand alliance for the five-phase elections beginning on October 12.
Being a marginal player in the state — which it ruled for decades — the Congress wanted to send a message that the three parties stood firmly united in the crucial poll that is turning into one of the toughest electoral battles in the country political history. The JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance is pitted against a rainbow coalition led by the BJP.
But the strategy to rally around Kumar and secular alliance was not the only factor that prompted the decision to abandon the plan, the Congress suffered a big jolt when head of its 11-member manifesto committee, Ram Jatan Sinha, quit the party over denial of ticket. He wanted to contest either from Jehanabad or Kurtha.