A day after Congress in-charge for Bihar Bhakta Charan Das formally announced the break up with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), one of the most trusted allies, many senior leaders of the party said it was a belated yet justified move of the party high command to rejuvenate the organization in the state.
“Das’s declaration to contest all 40 seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections has rekindled hope among the party’s cadre to prepare, which was a distant reality till the time the Congress remained in the pact with the RJD,” said former Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief Anil Sharma.
Many leaders of the RJD and the Congress as well as the political analysts feel that the break-up might continue for long and both the parties would join hands together, as they did it earlier, before the next Lok Sabha elections. “All like-minded parties believing in constitutional and democratic framework shall come together to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party-led dispensation,” said RJD spokesman Mrityunjay Tiwari.
Sharma, who has been critical to the coalition with the RJD, argued that the Congress party’s vote base kept on shrinking ever since it tied up with the Lalu Prasad’s party, whose regime had been symbolized as Jungle Raj, a thriving era of casteism and nepotism in politics and general misrule among the masses. “The Congress had to face mass alienation and crisis of credibility owing to its propensity or dependence on the RJD. This led to the continuous flight of cadres and leaders from the party,” said Sharma.
The Congress got the test of RJD’s ‘uncompromising’ approach in 2009 when it made a hard bargain with the former party and offered only three seats out of 40 in the Lok Sabha to contest. In 2005, the Congress had fielded four candidates in the Lok Sabha elections and had won three —Aurangabad (Nikhil Kumar), Madhubani (Shakeel Ahmad) and Sasaram (Meira Kumar). “The party was left with no option but to part ways, as the RJD was unwilling to let us contest the four seats, it had fought earlier. Congress contested the following assembly polls without an alliance with the RJD,” said Congress chief spokesman Rajesh Rathore.
A section of party leaders said that the vote share of the party had declined to 6.66% in 2015, as it remained in the coalition with the RJD and the Janata Dal (United), from 8.37% in 2020 when the party had decided to go it alone at the last minutes. “Congress had a vote share of 16.54% in 1995. But it receded to 6.09% in the 2005 assembly elections. Congress’s credibility among the electors suffered as it relied heavily on the RJD,” said AICC member Kishore Kumar Jha.
AICC media panellist and MLC Prem Chandra Mishra said that it was a well-thought decision that has infused fresh energy among the party leaders and cadres. “The party has made a start, after analyzing the fallout. Bihar in-charge Das demonstrated a bold step and he is determined to re-invigorate the organization at the grassroots level,” said Mishra.
A professor of Patna Science College and political observer, Shakar Kumar, feared that Congress’s decision to opt out of the RJD was taken impulsively. “Both the RJD and the Congress broke up only to team up together. Though it is good that the Congress thought to go for it alone, however, to win the seats it needs to strengthen the organisation at the grassroots level. The party will achieve sustainable growth only if it relied on committed leaders instead of depending on borrowed players,” said Kumar.
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