Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Congress’s poll campaign to focus on NDA’s ‘contradictions’
The Congress’s campaign will primarily focus on the discord within the NDA after the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) decided to go solo in the assembly elections following differences with the ruling Janata Dal (United)Updated: Oct 14, 2020, 10:17 IST
The Congress has decided to “expose the contradictions” within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as part of its campaign strategy for the upcoming three-phase assembly elections in Bihar, people aware of the matter said.
The Congress’s campaign will primarily focus on the discord within the NDA after the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) decided to go solo in the assembly elections following differences with the ruling Janata Dal (United).
However, the LJP did not rule out forming the government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a post-poll alliance.
Besides the JD (U) and the BJP, the Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S) of former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) of Mukesh Sahani are the other constituents of the NDA.
“Our campaign strategy is to exploit contradictions within the NDA. There is a feeling among the JD (U) supporters that if the BJP emerges as the single largest party, it will demand the CM’s post. A tug-of-war is on between the two parties,” said Shakeel Ahmed, a former Union minister and a Congress leader.
“Supporters of both the BJP and the JD (U) want their respective parties to win the maximum number of seats and at the same time will try to restrict each other. A message has also gone out that the LJP will field BJP rebels on majority of seats against the JD (U) and that the former will eventually rejoin the alliance, in case it wins the elections,” he claimed.
The LJP has decided not to field its candidates on seats that the BJP is contesting as per the seat-sharing agreement among the NDA allies.
The LJP has named eight former BJP leaders in its first list of 42 candidates for the first phase of elections on October 28, including Rajendra Singh, Rameshwar Chourasia, Usha Vidyarthi and Ravindra Yadav.
“We will highlight this contradiction and try to woo the JD (U) supporters in constituencies, where the BJP has fielded its candidates. Similarly, we will focus on BJP supporters on seats from where JD (U) candidates are contesting,” Ahmed said.
However, Bhupendra Yadav, BJP’s Bihar in-charge, dismissed such contradictions.
“The BJP has only one plan and that is to fight the elections along with the JD (U). We have clearly spelt out that plan. The LJP is not a part of this arrangement because it chose to fight alone. The NDA is fighting for development in Bihar under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and vision. Nitish Kumar is the undisputed chief ministerial candidate of the alliance,” he said.
The Congress will intensify its campaign from Thursday onwards after the central election committee (CEC), headed by party chief Sonia Gandhi, on Wednesday clears the names of the remaining 49 candidates – it had announced 21 candidates in its first list -- for the second and third phases of elections to be held on November 3 and 7, respectively.
The assembly election results will be declared on November 10.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress is contesting on 144 and 70 seats, respectively. As part of the “Mahagathbandhan”, or the grand alliance, the Left parties are contesting on 29 seats.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra are expected to address a few rallies each. Sonia and former PM Manmohan Singh are likely to address virtual rallies.
But trouble appears to be brewing in the Congress over the candidate selection following allegations of “irregularities in ticket distribution”.
The vociferous protest over offering tickets to “tainted and incompetent” leaders in the first list prompted Rahul to step in to douse the fire by forming six panels to oversee the party’s preparations for the upcoming assembly polls.
Randeep Singh Surjewala and Pawan Khera have been appointed as the chairman of the election management and coordination committee and media coordination panel, respectively.
Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) president Madan Mohan Jha, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sadanand Singh and Rajya Sabha member Akhilesh Prasad Singh, who have been facing revolt from disgruntled party’s ticket seekers, have been kept out of these committees.