Ranchi, June 18: It’s time for introspection in the Congress after the party’s humiliating drubbing in the Hatia by-election with the high command wanting to know why its candidate finished a poor fourth, forfeiting his deposit in the process.
The party’s Jharkhand in-charge Shakeel Ahmed is of the opinion that friendly fights between Congress and JVM in the recent past have benefited none other than the BJP and its allies and left the Congress red-faced at the end of the day.
“The Hatia bypoll result has really shocked us. Friendly fights between Congress and JVM facilitated JMM’s victory in Mandu and Ajsu in Hatia. If we keep fighting with each other like this, the BJP and its allies will be the ultimate beneficiaries. The central leadership of both parties ought to work out a viable alternative,” Ahmed admitted to The Telegraph.
Desertions from the Congress camp while campaigning for the Hatia bypoll was on in full swing also revealed largescale resentment among cadres.
Most claimed to be unhappy with the party’s decision to field Union tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay’s brother Sunil in Hatia and many of them even openly alleged that they were sidelined during campaigning.
“It is really unfortunate that the Congress often ignores the recommendations of its own committees. After Congress failed to prove its point in Uttar Pradesh and four other states during the last Assembly election, it set up a committee headed by A.K. Anthony to find out the root causes. The committee clearly stated that Congress was forced to eat humble pie because senior leaders had fielded their kith and kin. Still, when it came to Hatia bypoll only a few weeks later, Sunil was granted party ticket,” said angry Congress member Alok Dube.
Citing examples, he added that during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won six Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand. Four MPs — Sushila Kerketta, Bagun Sumbrui, Chandra Shekhar Dube and Furkan Ansari — consequently fielded their sons in the next Assembly elections.
At that time, Sahay tried to field his brother in Hatia but did not succeed.
The sons of all the Congress bigwigs were defeated. The MPs too, except Sahay, lost the next Lok Sabha elections.
Ahmed, however, ruled out dissidence in the party fold.
“Sunil Sahay’s name was recommended by several other leaders as well, including his elder brother Subodh. It wouldn’t be wise for us to jump to conclusions before the inquiry committee submits its report. Soon after the presidential elections are over, the Congress high-command may take appropriate decision on Jharkhand including reviving ties with the JVM,” he added.
JVM chief Babulal Marandi, however, ruled out any truck with the Congress again.
“Our preparations to contest all Lok Sabha and Assembly seats are on in full swing. We cannot back out so easily. We have given enough opportunities to the Congress in the past. Now it is for them to decide what to do next,” he said.