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Bihar political crisis: Clueless Congress swings from hope to despair in a few hours

While a section of leaders believed that Nitish was indulging in pressure tactic, and that alliance can survive, the older generation of leaders seemed to have sensed the wind rightly, as some veterans in the party said the “game seems to be over”.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: July 27, 2017 9:34:24 am
nitish kumar resign, nitish kumar resignation, nitish kumar, maha gatbandhan, bihar cm resign, bihar politics, lalu prasad yadav, tejaswi yadav, rahul gandhi, congress, sonia gandhi, indian express news, india news Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned from his post on Wednesday. (PTI/ File Photo)

Caught in the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad crossfire, the Congress, desperate to see that the grand alliance in Bihar stays intact and replicated in 2019 General Election, was stunned but still hoped against hope that the alliance will be salvaged.

The opinion in the party was sharply divided on Wednesday evening. While a section of leaders believed that Nitish was indulging in pressure tactic, and that alliance can survive, the older generation of leaders seemed to have sensed the wind rightly, as some veterans in the party said the “game seems to be over”.

The party held its horses and said both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi have “great respect and affection” for Nitish. Nitish did not speak to either Sonia or Rahul before submitting his resignation. He conveyed his decision to C P Joshi, the party’s general secretary and Bihar in-charge. Sources said Joshi tried to persuade him to change his mind.

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A section of the party believed until the last moment that Nitish, realising that Lalu Prasad is pushed to the wall by corruption charges and that the Congress’s hands are tied by political compulsions, was using this opportunity to stamp his preeminence in the grand alliance. “He wants to dictate terms…but we are helpless,” a senior leader said earlier in the day.

The party’s initial reaction was that of a deep disappointment. Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala initially said the alliance was given a five-year mandate by the people of Bihar based on its policies, principles and the leadership it presented. “It was also a mandate against the BJP and the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who challenged the pride of Bihar and Biharis…. We will continue to strive that the mandate given by the people for five years is fully respected.”

But as it became clear that Nitish will form government with the BJP, senior Congress leaders changed their tune. Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, “If morality and lack of attachment to power is the animating principle for Nitish, he should seek reelection and not continue as Chief Minister with a 24-hour gap under NDA.”

He said there was a pre-election alliance, from which Nitish defected on the ground of morality. “Then morality demands going back to electorate and not continuance in power,” Singhvi said, adding that Nitish has “betrayed the people’s mandate”.

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