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Home / India / Bihar: Cong decision to contest by-elections alone delights party lobby

Fillip for lobby against tie-ups in heartland

Bihar: Cong decision to contest by-elections alone delights party lobby

This section is also acutely worried at suggestions from some senior leaders that the party should explore the possibility of an alliance with Samajwadi Party
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Sanjay K. Jha   |   New Delhi   |   Published 25.10.21, 01:12 AM

The Congress decision to contest the Bihar by-elections alone and declare the end of the alliance with the RJD has delighted a party lobby that opposes coalitions in the Hindi heartland, arguing the party needs to regain ground here to revive its national fortunes.

This section is acutely worried at suggestions from some senior leaders that the Congress should explore the possibility of an alliance with the Samajwadi Party ahead of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

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They argue that any hope of a Congress revival in the 2024 general election rests on the party’s performance in the Hindi heartland.

While the Congress is strong in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, this lobby is pushing firmly for the party to go it alone in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

“We have built an organisational structure across the state, in every district, after almost three decades. We have got a charismatic leader in Priyanka Gandhi,” a young Congress office-bearer from Uttar Pradesh told The Telegraph from Lucknow.

“If we get into a coalition with the Samajwadis now and don’t contest in 70-80 per cent constituencies, the organisation will slip into decay again. If we fight ferociously now, we will be ready for the parliamentary elections even if we don’t win too many seats in the Assembly elections.”

A senior leader echoed the same sentiment. “We must do in Bihar what we did in Uttar Pradesh: build structures in every district, prepare networks across the state and get ready to fight the parliamentary elections as a true alternative to the BJP,” the politician said. “If we survive on crutches, we shall get crumbs.”

The younger Congress politicians are pushing the anti-coalition line more vigorously, arguing that a pragmatic approach on alliances should be adopted instead of surrendering the party’s chances of rebuilding itself.

While the break-up in Bihar might appear accidental — a result of the RJD declaring candidates for both the by-elections without consultations — the anti-alliance Congress lobby has seized the opportunity to build its case for solo fights instead of sulking about a “betrayal”.

Kanhaiya Kumar’s induction into the Congress had angered the RJD as the former CPI politician doesn’t get along with Tejashwi Yadav, and the resultant strains would have separated the two allies sooner or later.

A prompt declaration from Congress Bihar minder Bhakta Charan Das about the party’s intention to contest all the 40 Lok sabha seats from Bihar in 2024, and Kanhaiya’s subtle attack on the RJD and Tejashwi, indicate the leadership is ready to carve a new path in the state.

Kanhaiya has framed his narrative carefully to suggest the Congress alone has the credentials to fight the BJP at the national level.

Addressing a meeting in Patna a few days ago, Kanhaiya had asked the people of Bihar to shed any dilemmas they might harbour.

“Amne-samne ki ladai chhid chuki hai (It’s an open confrontation). Those who want to fight the BJP should come with the Congress,” he had said.

“The Congress’s understanding is clear — no ifs and buts. There are no calculations here. I want to ask: is there any other party in the country that hasn’t ever gone into the BJP’s embrace? A few Scindias can go but the Congress will never go to the BJP, come what may.”

What Kanhaiya said on the subjection of dynasty is likely to hurt many regional parties.

“Whoever has his family’s political legacy has clung to it by closing the door on others. Nobody is willing to share space with others,” he said.

“Look at Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and myself — none of us comes from a political family. There is only one leader in the country, Rahul Gandhi, who is willing to heartily embrace people like us. This party has tolerance, this party gives you freedom. The party which gave this country freedom can also protect this country’s freedom.”

Indicating a political resolve to confront the RJD, Kanhaiya said: “Only self-respect (atma samman) is not enough. People who snatched power from the Congress will be asked what they have given Bihar in 30 years.”

Kanhaiya argued that self-esteem can be protected only if there are education and livelihood opportunities. He also attacked caste-based politics.

“With social justice, social unity is needed too. I want to ask those who have turned the election into (a calculation of) caste equations, how long will you fool the people? Did the coronavirus strike on the basis of caste?” he said.

Social justice and caste loyalty are the fulcrums of the RJD’s politics. Kanhaiya is now trying to convince people about the importance of social harmony, education, jobs and infrastructure that can prevent large-scale migrations from Bihar in search of livelihood.

This suggests the Congress is preparing to try a new political narrative in the state. If the party does well in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the go-alone policy in Bihar is likely to be cemented.



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