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Cong stares at Bihar ‘washout’

From contesting all 54 seats in undivided Bihar not very long back,the party has been left with just three seats by its state partners — RJD and LJP.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
March 18, 2009 4:46:53 pm

The Congress is staring at its worst prospects ever in Bihar in the run-up to the general elections. From contesting all 54 seats in undivided Bihar not very long back,the party has been left with just three seats by its two state partners — the RJD and LJP. After the creation of Jharkhand,the state has 40 Lok Sabha seats.

With its state unit calling the seat-sharing as “unacceptable and an insult”,the party finds itself in a cleft stick. It either accepts the arrangement and face internal rebellion or goes against it by putting the UPA at risk.

The party was given the three seats — Madhubani,Aurangabad and Sasaram — “almost arbitrarily” without a discussion. All these are Congress’ sitting seats.

A sulking Bihar Pradesh Congress president Anil Sharma said the formula was not acceptable and added that he was awaiting a final word from the high command to decide the party’s next move in the state. Sources said the Congress was preparing to contest 20 seats. “We cannot accept three seats. After all,seats do not belong to individual parties,” Sharma said.

Senior party leader Premchand Mishra conceded that the Congress allowed itself to be taken for a ride. “If the Congress wants to exist in Bihar,it must contest all 40 seats,” he Mishra.

Political analysts and senior Congressmen,however,are not surprised at the party’s decline in Bihar. With the emergence of regional parties and caste-based agenda,the Congress has been on the margins of Bihar politics since 1989.

After the best-ever performance in the state in 1984,when it won 48 seats out of the 54,it could win just 4 in the next parliamentary elections. And the final “nail in the coffin” was driven by the 1989 Bhagalpur riots which set most of the 16 per cent Muslims — its traditional votebank— against the party.

“The Congress was increasingly becoming party of the upper castes since the late 1970s,displeasing intermediary and backward castes. The Congress had mostly upper caste CMs in Bihar. V P Singh’s Jan Morcha and Bhagalpur riots provided the last nail in the Congress’ coffin in Bihar,” political analyst

and author Srikant told The Indian Express.

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