Skip to main content

Bihar: Congress Decision to ‘Walk Alone’ Pushes it to 4th Place in Bypolls

The grand old party was out of the fight on both seats despite the use of youth leader Kanhaiya Kumar as its star campaigner.
Bihar: Congress Decision to ‘Walk Alone’ Pushes it to 4th Place in Bypolls

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: The outcome of the bye-elections for two Assembly seats in Bihar on Tuesday made it clear that the decision by Congress to contest polls independently proved overambitious, as the party performed poorly, unlike its repeated claims to “make a difference.”

Congress got only 3.10% vote share pulling just over 9,000 votes, while the JD-U won with 46 % vote share bagging a total of 135, 437 votes and the Opposition RJD got 41% vote share with a total of 120,334 votes for the two seats, according to Election Commission data.

Congress was out of the fight on both seats despite the use of youth leader Kanhaiya Kumar as its star campaigner. Kumar was recently inducted into the party from the Communist Party of India (CPI) to attract youth voters in the state and strengthen the party.

The ruling Janata Dal-United has retained the Kusheshwar Asthan seat by defeating the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) by nearly 12,000 votes. Counting of votes was on at the time of writing in Tarapur, where there was a close contest between RJD and JD-U. If JD-U retains Tarapur, it would be a setback for RJD as the party poured all its resources in the election, including ailing RJD chief Lalu Prasad addressing an election rally.

The JD (U) won both seats in the 2020 and bypolls were held after both the MLAs passed away.

However, it is Congress that appears to be a big loser in these bypolls. In the 2020 Assembly polls, Congress, as a part of the Mahagathbandhan, was defeated by JD-U by more than 7,000 votes. This time round, when Congress contested the polls alone, it got votes that were less than the margin of its defeat last time. As a result, it was pushed to the fourth place.

RJD, which was supported by the Left parties -- the CPI, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)) and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI (ML) -- has replaced Congress this time.

Similarly in Tarapur seat, after leading till the 17th round of counting, RJD was trailing to JD-U by nearly 800 votes. Here again, Congress was pushed to fourth place.

The bypolls are also seen as a test for Congress’s capability to garner votes, especially from its traditional support base among upper castes, dalits and Muslims.

As expected, the bypoll was a direct fight between the ruling National Democratic Alliance (JD-U,BJP, Hindustan Awam Morcha and Vikassheel Insaan Party IP) and the opposition Mahagathbandhan of RJD and Left parties.

Political watchers had cautioned Congress last month over its decision to walk away from the Mahagathbandhan. In the current trend of alliance politics across the country, the grand old party, which has lost its social support base in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, hopes to embark on an 'Ekla-Chalo' (Walk Alone) strategy in the state, which is widely seen as an untimely strategy.

Soon after Congress performed poorly in the bypolls, a former party MLA Rishi Mishra blamed state party president Madan Mohan Jha for the defeat. “The bypoll results reflect the bad condition of the party in the state. Congress has reached the ICU in Bihar and Jha is responsible for it, he should resign now,” Mishra said.

He demanded that the Congress high command should look into who was behind the breaking of the party alliance with RJD in the state.

A senior Congress leader also questioned the big claim made by Bhakta Charan Das, Congress in-charge of Bihar, last month when he alleged that RJD was an “agent” of BJP and would join hands with saffron party to form the next government. “There was no need for such premature statements,” he said.

The Congress leader recalled multiple statements that hit headlines when Bhakta Charan Das announced that the party would not be a part of the opposition Mahagathbandhan in the state and would contest all 40 Lok Sabha seats in the next parliamentary polls. His comments were followed by Kanhaiya Kumar, who said the party would form the government in Bihar in 2025.

DM Diwakar, a political commentator, said Congress leaders should focus on regaining the party’s social support base rather than make tall claims. The reality is that its poor performance in the last Assembly elections spoiled the chances of Mahagathbandhan to form the government.

In the Assembly polls held last year, RJD emerged as the single largest party in Bihar with 75 seats, but the alliance missed the majority mark by a few seats. At that time, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav had refrained from blaming ally Congress for Mahagathbandhan's defeat.

The performance of the Left parties had exceeded expectations, with the CPI (ML) winning 12 seats and CPI (M) and CPI winning two seats each. The Left parties contested 29 seats and won 16 seats. On the other side, Congress managed to win only 19 seats of the 70 contested.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram