Uncertainty over Grand Alliance leaves Bihar Congress leaders in dilemma
At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party has put all its resources to strengthen the organisation at grassroots level, leaders of Bihar Congress are in a dilemma over its continuance in the RJD-led Grand Alliance (GA), after the humiliating defeat of the coalition candidates in the recently concluded Lok Sabha (LS) elections.
Only one out of 40 GA candidates in the fray could manage to win a seat (Kishanganj), while its rival coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) swept the LS polls. The defeat has strained the relationship between Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal, after a majority of leaders in both parties insisted on severing ties ahead of the assembly elections, due in October-November next year.
Congress legislature party (CLP) leader in the assembly Sadanand Singh summed up the scenario as being difficult for the party at present, stating that the fate of the coalition would be decided only by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) leaders, who are still busy resolving the central leadership issue.
When asked about the best suited strategy for the party to bolster the party’s prospects, Singh, who is also a nine-time MLA, said that the party had witnessed many difficult phases but rose again with new vigour. “In sync with unanimous resolution, the Congress took a distinctive line among the opposition in the just concluded monsoon session and asserted its presence in the legislature more aggressively to raise issues of mass concern. But we are not sure what will follow next,” said Singh.
The party currently has 27 legislators in the house of 243 members. The Congress had contested 41 seats in alliance with RJD and JD(U) in 2015 and formed the GA government, led by chief minister Nitish Kumar. Later, the JD(U) parted ways from the alliance and formed the government with BJP and its allies in July 2017.
A senior leader of the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC), said that the Congress is reluctant to take up the challenge of reviving the organisation and contest the election on its own for the fear of losing more ground. “There was a chance to go alone after the party held a massive rally at Gandhi Maidan in February this year. Party workers were enthused and waited for the high command’s signal to go alone, which eluded them,” he said.
“Congress’s strategy for Bihar could be formalised only after the new chief is appointed in the AICC, which is rudderless for the past two months. Any decision, whether to continue in the GA or to go alone, could be decided once the new party chief takes over,” said Singh, adding that contesting alone would require a lot of toil from all workers, from the state to booth levels, if they really wanted to retrieve the party’s lost glory.
A former BPCC chief said Congress continued losing its share of votes after it began relying excessively on its allies, particularly the RJD, after 1998, and compromised the aspirations of party workers.