Patna, Oct 10 (PTI) Sore over the short shrift it recently received from the RJD, its old but domineering ally in Bihar, the Congress on Sunday chose to let off some steam, charging Lalu Prasad's party with “trying to weaken us” despite the “deep respect” the grand old party had for the former chief minister.
“In the assembly polls last year, we could not realise our potential because the RJD made us give up many seats where we were strong, and compelled to contest constituencies where we did not have a good chance,” AICC secretary in-charge for Bihar, Bhakt Charan Das, who was here to oversee preparations for the upcoming by-polls to two assembly seats, alleged.
He expressed dismay over the RJD's unilateral announcement of candidates for by-elections to Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan, though the latter was lost by a small margin last year by the Congress, which was confident of wresting the seat from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) this time.
“As an alliance partner, we wonder what the RJD seeks to gain by trying to weaken us. Even if it goes on to win the by-polls, will two extra seats help it form the next government? Can the RJD ever form a government in Bihar without the Congress supporting it”, asked Das, who took over after the party's poor show in the state caused his predecessor Shaktisinh Gohil to step down.
In the assembly elections last year, the five-party Grand Alliance that is headed by the RJD and comprises Congress and three Left parties, fell short of the majority mark by about 15 seats.
The RJD emerged as the single largest party in the state assembly, while the Left performed beyond expectations. However, the Congress stood out as the weak link, as it could win less than 20 seats despite having contested 70 of the 243-strong assembly.
Relations have become strained between the two parties ever since the recent induction of Kanhaiya Kumar into the Congress. The former JNU student leader is seen as a potential rival of Tejashwi Yadav, the younger son and heir apparent of Lalu Prasad.
The Left, which has been left with an axe to grind against the Congress following the exit of the CPI rising star, has chosen to throw its lot behind the RJD in the upcoming by-polls in Bihar.
However, Das claimed that Congress candidates for the two seats were going to win and the RJD will have to explain to the people “why it acted the way it did, unmindful of the fact that we need to remain united till the next Lok Sabha elections and the assembly polls of 2025”.
Having ruled Bihar for the most part till the 1980s, the Congress went into a state of steady decline ever since it was unseated from power by the Janata Dal, of which the RJD and the JD(U) are splinter groups.
An alliance with the RJD allowed the Congress to share power in the last tenure of Rabri Devi, who succeeded husband Lalu Prasad as the chief minister.
It again briefly enjoyed power in the state after the Grand Alliance that came into being with arch rivals Lalu and Nitish joining hands swept the polls in 2015. The JD(U) leader, however, returned to the NDA less than two years later.