The Congress’s poor showing in Bihar Assembly polls, as also in the by-elections, have once again triggered a debate on the party’s functioning and the way decisions are being made. A section of Congress’s Bihar leadership is pointing fingers at the party’s central leadership, arguing that wrong selection of seats, faulty ticket distribution, and sidelining of local leaders contributed to the downfall, as seen in the results announced Tuesday – the party won 19 seats.
At least two senior Bihar Congress leaders told The Indian Express that central leaders who oversaw the party’s election efforts did not take the local leadership into confidence.
There is also unease among many central leaders over the poor performance in bypolls. “Look at the wipe-out in by-elections…but our leadership is in perpetual denial,” a senior leader said.
Stating that “everything went wrong” in Bihar, a senior state leader said, “We accepted wrong seats, ticket distribution was not up to the mark. Leaders imported from Delhi did not trust the local leaders…. Delhi se aake aap chunav thodi na jeet sakte hain (you can’t win state elections by coming from Delhi). We did not get the seats where we should have fought.”
This leader said the party had initially decided to contest at least one seat in each district. “But we did not have any seat in Bhojpur, Jehananbad, Arwal; while in some districts we fought as many as seven seats.”
Bihar Congress chief Madan Mohan Jha told The Indian Express: “Some of our sitting seats…we had to give to alliance partners. It is too early to analyse (but) we are looking into it. We are not happy with the results. We will call all our candidates to find out the problems and why they could not win. We will carry out an introspection.”
On candidate selection, Jha said, “You know from where tickets are distributed in our party. Everybody’s views and opinions are taken into consideration. Any one individual is not responsible – I am the (state Congress) president, but the president too cannot be absolved (of responsibility). Whether I give the ticket or somebody else gives, I cannot run away from the responsibility.”
That is why, he said, there will be an introspection – to find out the problems, (whether) in ticket distribution, campaign, or problems at the workers’ level.”
One leader said, “In the first phase, we (Grand Alliance) won 47 seats out of 71, and 42 out of 94 seats in second phase. But in the third phase, we could win only 21 seats out of 78. The third phase was in areas with Muslim-Yadav concentration, but we performed badly….perhaps our messaging to Muslims was not right…”
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