‘Self-defeating strategy’: Protest mounts over Congress’ selection of candidates in Bihar
A section of party leaders staged vociferous protests against the party’s decision to field Luv Sinha and Pravin Kushwaha from Bankipur and Patna city constituencies.Updated: Oct 16, 2020, 22:45 IST
Anger and frustration over the choice of seats and award of tickets by the Congress have spilt over in Bihar ahead of the assembly elections. Many senior leaders have questioned the process of seat negotiation with the allies and selection of candidates, alleging that the party was on a self-defeating course by encouraging nepotism and relying on interpersonal relationship among other factors to decide candidates.
“The party had the chance to ride high on the anti-incumbency wave and restore its traditional support base among upper castes, minorities and the scheduled castes, but favourable outcome appears to be a distant dream particularly in the current scenario,” said a senior Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) leader.
Soon after the Congress announced the candidates for second and the third phase of polling, due on November 3 and 7, former BPCC chief Chandan Bagchi said that the party’s strategy appeared to be self-defeating.
“The selection of candidates for the rest two phases was worse than the first. Leaders have been allotted constituencies where they are not familiar with. None of the senior leaders of the state was consulted regarding the selection of candidates,” said Bagchi.
To buttress Bagchi’s contention, another BPCC leader said that the party had erred in surrendering sitting and potentially winnable seats to allies. “Seats like Bachhwara, Manjhi, Govindpur, Bhore, among others, which elected Congress leaders in the last elections, have been handed over to the Left parties and the RJD. Additionally, the Congress drew blank in districts like Bhojpur and Jehanabad despite the availability of strong candidates and winning potential,” said the leader, requesting anonymity.
Selection of candidates has compounded the problem for party workers. Leaders like Pravin Kushwaha, Gunjan Patel (state youth Congress president), Sanjeev Kumar, Nagendra Paswan Vikal, et al, have been named as candidates for the constituencies where they hardly worked for election purposes.
Kushwaha has been allotted Patna City instead of Sultanganj, Patel has been accommodated at Nalanda against his demand for Digha (Patna), Sanjeev is contesting from Vaishali against his crave for Paroo (in Muzaffarpur) and Vikal is contesting from Rosera (Samastipur) even as he worked hard in Patna.
Another former BPCC chief Anil Kumar Sharma also expressed his reservation over the selection process saying that the central election committee of the AICC would have done better in selecting candidates had the proposers, the AICC in-charge and the screening committee members applied wisdom, proper understanding of social equations and political situation of respective constituencies.
“The party had not confronted such a situation when the selection of almost all candidates is under a cloud for some reason or the other,” said another senior party leader Kishore Kumar Jha. “Candidates with criminal antecedents and turncoats have been preferred over committed workers owing to weak leadership in the state and inefficiency of the AICC team. Nepotism and interpersonal relationship built on extraneous considerations ruled the roost in selection of candidates,” said Jha, questioning the rationale behind fielding Luv Sinha, son of Shatrughan Sinha; Subhashini Raj (daughter of Sharad Yadav) and Mithilesh Chaudhary (brother-in-law of Kirti Azad), among others.
Meanwhile, a section of party leaders staged vociferous protests against the party’s decision to field Luv Sinha and Pravin Kushwaha from Bankipur and Patna city constituencies and torched their effigies on the day they filed their nomination papers.
Earlier on Thursday, the Congress and the RJD held a joint meeting to release the list of candidates for the second and the final rounds of the elections. The RJD had declared the list of 102 candidates and the Congress announced 49 candidates against the seats they were allotted under the Grand Alliance.
The RJD had announced nominees for 42 constituencies out of 144 seats it is contesting. The Congress had declared 21 nominees out of 70 seats it is contesting for the first phase of polling on 71 seats out of the total 243. As part of GA or the Mahagathbandhan, the Left parties are contesting 29 seats.