Congress leaders in Bihar are not happy with the party’s decision to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections as part of the grand alliance of Janata Dal United and Rashtriya Janata Dal as they feel the party’s affairs in the state are being dictated by RJD chief Lalu Yadav.
On Thursday, senior Congress leader and party treasurer, 88-year-old Moti Lal Vora along with Bihar in charge C.P. Joshi, went straight to Lalu’s residence after landing in Patna to discuss seat-sharing issues.
“Even now it is Lalu who is deciding which seats the Congress will contest. The fact that a senior leader like Voraji had to go to his residence first rather than going to the Congress office in Patna shows the hold Lalu enjoys over the Congress in the state,” a Congress vice president (state) said.
Party leaders said that even though they have been allotted 40 seats as per the seat sharing agreement, they are not expecting any “resounding success”.
“We do not even have 40 good candidates who can win in their constituencies. We also do not have the required cadre strength to galvanise the voters. We are lacking in resources also,” a former state president recalled, adding that the Congress state headquarters Sadaqat Ashram is a “pale shadow” of its glorious past.
According to him, the Delhi-based Congress leaders should have been more concerned about the long standing issues that are plaguing the party in the state rather than getting a bigger number of seats to contest.
“Leaders who have access to the party high command in New Delhi are occupying key positions despite having zero mass base whereas leaders who worked on ground have been pushed to the periphery. Has Rahul (Gandhi) come to Bihar after the rout in the 2014 general elections? Has he fixed accountability on the leaders who were managing the elections in 2014? The same lot of people continue to run whatever is left of Congress in the state. If this is the state of affairs then how can anyone expect the revival of Congress in Bihar?” he asked.
Most of the Congress leaders in Bihar this newspaper spoke to said that the party’s organisation was in shambles in the state. “Till now, not a single party meeting has been convened on how to move ahead for the elections. Which are the seats, who are the potential candidates, no one knows,” a Patna- based Congress leader said. He added that the main reason for the downfall of the Congress in the state was subservience to Lalu Yadav.
“Congress lost the support of the upper castes in the last 15-20 years because New Delhi-based leaders who were involved in Bihar like Digvijaya Singh and C.P. Joshi did not object to Lalu’s interference. It was Lalu who pushed for empowering the lower castes in the Congress’ organisation at the cost of antagonising the upper caste who had always stood with us. Now we have the support of neither the lower caste nor the upper caste,” he said.
Congress’ Bihar in-charge C.P. Joshi recently formed an 18-member committee to “brain storm” the party’s preparation for the elections and selection of candidates. The committee, which is headed by former MP Nikhil Kumar, also includes Shakeel Ahmed, Meira Kumar and senior state leaders like Ram Jatan Sinha and Anil Sharma.