Rahul in Purnia.

Rahul in Purnia.

Bihar grand alliance looks shaky; Congress looks to be going alone

Opposition too scattered to take on BJP: Pavan Verma

Agency Report | Patna/New Delhi | 9 July, 2020 | 11:00 PM

While the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), a fringe party in Bihar, has expressed its unhappiness over the non-formation of a coordination panel in the grand alliance of opposition parties for the upcoming Assembly elections, the Congress is contemplating its own course of fighting the elections separately.

Though no Congress leader has openly said anything so far, the party has become active in Bihar after the virtual meeting of the leaders with former Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The party seems to be working on the principle of ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ (walk alone) or moving towards the strategy to contest the elections on its own.

The party’s Bihar in-charge, Shakti Singh Gohil, met with party leaders in Patna on Wednesday and discussed the strategy with the members of the election campaign committee.

Besides, several senior Congress leaders, including Gohil and Campaign Committee Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Singh, met Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi late on Wednesday evening.

Congress sources said that the party hoped a joint meeting will be called to discuss election strategy within the first fortnight of July, but it has not happened yet.

Till now, neither the Congress has been given any indication regarding the meeting, nor has any official information been given about the meeting in near future. Most of the Congressmen are unhappy with this attitude of the RJD, the sources added.

A Congress leader, on the condition of anonymity, said that the party does not want a repeat of the situation which had arisen due to the delay in seat-sharing in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The Congress sources said that the party wants consensus on all issues with its allies.

Sources further said that the resentment with the RJD was palpable even in the Congress Election Committee meeting. Most of the Congress members accused the RJD of cheating when it came to seat sharing at the time of elections.

Akhilesh Singh said that all parties are busy making their own strategies, and the Congress is also doing the same. He said it is too early to say anything. However, he also said that the Grand Alliance is united and everything will be decided in a fortnight’s time.

Meanwhile, Lallan Kumar, a member of the Election Campaign Committee, and former President of Bihar Pradesh Youth Congress, said, “The Congress is in favour of jointly contesting the elections to remove the BJP-JDU government in Bihar.”

He said there is democracy in the Congress and all the people speak openly at the party forum. The same happened at the meeting with Rahul Gandhi, where everyone put forward their views.

He also said that the party has already started preparing for the elections following instructions by the Congress high command.

Stressing that at the moment he sees no credible force that can take on the BJP or pose a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former JD-U National General Secretary Pavan Varma says, “The biggest disappointment has been the Congress party’s unwillingness and inability to reinvent itself. As far as the emergence of a third front is concerned, let us not forget that the opposition is completely scattered and divided. Not to mention, the single largest opposition party is hopelessly adrift.”

Talking about the Assembly polls in Bihar, scheduled to be held in October, the former diplomat and writer is not sure how such a massive exercise could be undertaken in face of the coronavirus pandemic. “But talking of perception, at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any real opposition to the BJP-JDU combine there,” he said.

Expelled from JD-U in January this year after he opposed the party’s stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act, Varma says that he is yet to decide on his next political move. “Many decisions had to be deferred due to corona. Frankly, I am using that time for a great deal of research and writing of my book. I will make a decision on what and where I wish to proceed in some time.”

Talking about his long association with the JD-U, Varma stressed that he has great memories of his time with the JD-U. “Despite the differences, we had in the end, I am grateful to Nitish Kumar for having given me the opportunity to enter public life after I resigned from the foreign service.” (IANS)