Rahul Gandhi to visit Bihar’s disaster-affected areas

  • Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 04, 2015 00:20 IST

After Punjab and Maharashtra, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will soon visit Bihar to meet the families of victims of the cyclonic storm and the earthquake.

Nearly 120 people were killed in Bihar due to the cyclonic storm on April 21 followed by the April 25 earthquake. While 59 people lost their lives in the storm, 58 were killed in the deadly quake.

Besides, farmers have also suffered huge losses due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms.

During the visit, Gandhi is also expected to discuss the current political situation in Bihar, especially in the context of the merger of six erstwhile Janata parties last month that could impact the outcome of the next assembly elections in the state scheduled for October-November this year.

The Congress in Bihar is vertically divided on whether to go-it-alone in the upcoming polls or be a part of the grand alliance.

However, the dominant view in the party is that in order to keep the BJP away from power, the Congress should go with the secular formation that had won six out of the 10 assembly seats on which by elections were held in August last year. The BJP-led alliance that had registered a stupendous performance in the Lok Sabha elections winning 31 out of the total 40 seats could manage to bag only four seats in the by-polls.

The argument of this section is that a defeat in Bihar could dent the BJP’s prospects not only in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh where assembly polls are due in 2017 but also in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “But the terms of agreement should be respectable and fruitful for us,” a Congress leader said, adding the party should ensure there is no repeat of Maharashtra and Jharkand where the BJP won due to absence of a formidable alliance.

The other view is that the Congress should fight on its own to emerge as a dominant force in Bihar. This section also favours a tie-up with former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and disgruntled elements of the Janata Parivar.

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