The Congress today looked like the weak link as the Tejashwi Yadav-led Mahagathbandhan seemed set for second place in the Bihar election despite exit polls predicting an opposition victory.
Did Tejashwi Yadav mess up seat-sharing and end up giving the Congress more than it deserved?
The Congress contested 70 seats, the most after the Rashtriya Janata Dal (144). As for the Left parties, CPM was given four seats, the CPI six and the CPI (ML), 19.
Every party showed a better strike rate than the Congress. Among the major players, the grand old party was set to be limited to the fourth place.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi campaigned in Bihar but it was not a patch on Tejashwi Yadav’s massive rallies.
Last year, their partnership flopped in the national election too – the NDA swept the polls, winning 39 of 40 seats, and the Congress got one. The RJD scored a duck.
“We have to acknowledge that the Congress is the smaller party in the state. Rahul Gandhi ji did his bit by campaigning across the state, but yes, there are things that need to be done to strengthen our organizational machinery,” said the party’s Rajya Sabha member Nasir Hussain.
Prominent Congress candidates, including Sharad Yadav’s daughter Subhashini Sharad Yadav and actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha’s son Luv Sinha, were trailing in counting.
Analysts said if Tejashwi Yadav had not given in to the Congress demand (said to be 75 seats) and part with a generous 70, the opposition alliance may have been in a better position by dint of the RJD’s performance.
“It is clear that there is just no alternative to (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. The Congress is in no position to create any sort of dent to him and the BJP. In fact, we know that RJD, after much push-and-pull, agreed to give the Congress a maximum of 48 seats, but then political arm-twisting got them more. We all can see what Congress has done about it,” said former Janata Dal United leader Pavan Varma.