The disappointing performance of the Congress in the Bihar Assembly elections has sparked another wave of discontent in the grand old party, which threatened to tear it apart four months ago after a storm of protests.
“The Congress’s performance is being seen as what dragged the Grand Alliance with Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Left parties down to the ground,” said Senior leaders who are part of the dissenters’ group.
Congress won only 19 of the 70 seats it contested, in contrast to 75 of the 144 seats won by the RJD. Even the marginalized CPI-ML, which was part of the alliance, won 12 of the 19 seats it fought and moved Congress to the bottom of the list in terms of strike rate. Officially, the leaders responsible for handling the Bihar elections termed it as “bad ticket distribution, AIMIM factor and polarization of votes in the third and final phase of polling”.
Others pointed out that Congress was given 13 seats that had never fought and that it performed better in the first two rounds of voting before polarization began. They said the Congress had also contested 26 seats which no alliance partner had ever won in the last three decades.
Disagreements, however, blame poor performance on mismanagement.
“We were kept away from the campaign and we are getting reports from our Bihar leaders that a whole bunch of staff unable to manage the affairs was sent from New Delhi, dismissing the Bihar Congress leaders.”, a section of the dissenters maintained.
Different voter groups believe that the Bihar elections will not be seen in isolation and are part of the electoral system in other states, including the by-elections in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Karnataka.
The only senior leader of the party who campaigned in Bihar was Rahul Gandhi and his strategy was based entirely on personal attacks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which many leaders said had proved reactive in previous elections.
This was in contrast to Tejaswi Yadav, who ran an issue-based campaign focusing on jobs and corruption, which paid off to some extent without leading the coalition to victory. Despite losing five seats compared to 2015, His party has emerged again as the single largest party in the election.
All of these have raised internal questions about Mr. Gandhi’s worthiness. In private, a group of leaders has attacked Gandhi siblings for failing to lead. they also repeatedly denounced the need for a full-term president who could create a new narrative and help the party revive itself.
Currently, the top post is held by Sonia Gandhi who made it clear that it was an interim measure. But the process has also been slow, with more than 20 senior leaders following the August uprising and assuring them that a new leader will be elected.
The process for by-elections has begun and with the elections taking place, voters and Congress loyalists have realized that if the party has to stay consistent and take the side of the PM Modi-led NDA, something has to be done.
Months after the loss of power in Madhya Pradesh, the Letters Party challenging the leadership of the Gandhi family began to arrive, almost repeating the situation in Rajasthan and only narrowing its government.
Ahead of the party’s working committee meeting in August Gust, a group of party leaders, including veteran party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, and Anand Sharma, drew attention to “uncertainty” and “drift” in the party and called for “Honest Introspection”.
The letter called for a “full-time”, “effective leadership” that would be “visible” and “active” in the field – reflecting a section’s criticism of the Gandhi family’s leadership. Another letter came after the expulsion of nine Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh.
Top Congress sources said the Bihar results would further delay Rahul Gandhi’s expected to return as party president. Mr. Gandhi, who resigned from the top post after the party’s disastrous performance in last year’s Lok Sabha elections, is adamant in rejecting his return.