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Bihar debacle rekindles calls for introspection in Congress


Questions are being posed to Congress following his grim spectacle in Bihar’s assembly elections, with senior leader Kapil Sibal asking the leadership if it is “business as usual” and Rajasthan’s senior minister Ashok Gehlot responding to him. , Claiming that the comment has “hurt the feelings” of party workers and reminding them that the party had gone through similar crises several times in the past.

In some quarters, the performance of the Congress party is seen as responsible for the failure of the Mahagathbandhan (MGB) or grand alliance to overthrow the government of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the recently concluded assembly elections in Bihar.

It has also sparked renewed calls within the party for introspection and course correction.

Sibal, a former trade union minister and one of 23 signatories to a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in August this year calling for internal elections and organizational reform, questioned the leadership after the Bihar debacle.

“We have yet to hear about the recent polls … Perhaps the leadership of Congress thinks it should continue as usual,” he tweeted.

Sibal also said he was “obliged to speak publicly” as “there is no forum in the party to discuss party issues” and insisted that Congress needs efficient and high-level leaders to manage the elections.

In fact, after the August letter, the party more or less joined the existing leadership, and none of the changes sought has materialized.

Gehlot responded to Sibal with a series of tweets and defended the leadership, saying that there are various reasons for the electoral setbacks and that Congress will emerge stronger from the current crisis as it has in the past as well.

“It was not necessary for Mr. Kapil Sibal to mention our internal problem in the media; this has hurt the feelings of party workers across the country, ”he said.

“Congress has seen several crises, including 1969, 1977, 1989 and later in 1996, but we have come out stronger and stronger due to our ideology, programs, policies and our strong belief in party leadership,” added the Prime Minister of Rajasthan.

Congress won only 19 of the 70 seats it contested in Bihar; its partner, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) won 75 seats and emerged as the largest party in the assembly of 243; and the left parties won 16 of the 29 that fought as part of the great alliance.

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“We have improved with each and every crisis and we also formed the UPA government in 2004 under the skillful leadership of Soniaji (Sonia Gandhi), we will also overcome this time. There are several reasons for electoral losses. But each time the rank and file of the Congress party has shown firm and undivided faith in the leadership of the party and that is why we come out of it stronger and more united after each crisis, ”Gehlot said.

While Congress was officially silent on Sibal’s remarks, another “dissident” or letter writer, Vivek Tankha, spoke in support of the former union minister.

“Kapil ji is an iconic lawyer and a staunch congressional personality. Together and individually we have fought countless battles and continue to fight BJP antics. For our democracy to survive, Congress has to survive. The time to act is now or tomorrow may be too late, ”he tweeted.

The party’s Lok Sabha member, Karti P Chidambaram, also endorsed Sibal, saying that it is time for introspection and consultation in the organization.

“It is time for us to introspect, devise, consult and act,” Karti, son of former trade union minister P Chidambaram, said in a tweet.

The Lok Sabha MP from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu also tagged a tweet from Sibal about his comments on the Bihar elections.

But the Speaker of the Delhi Congress, Anil Chaudhary, launched an indirect attack on Sibal, saying he has been inactive in Delhi politics for some time despite being a Member of Parliament (MP) for the national capital in the past.

“Sibal ji, Delhi is the capital of India. You have been a deputy here, also a union minister. But for some time you have been inactive in Delhi politics. Let us fight together against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, ”he tweeted in Hindi.

A congressional official said the party’s top leaders will meet soon to discuss the result of the Bihar poll and that one such meeting could take place on Tuesday.

Earlier, Congressional Work Committee (CWC) member and general secretary Tariq Anwar also called for “deep introspection” after the party’s dismal performance in Bihar polls, but maintained that Sibal did not need to comment that will benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“This is about elections in Bihar and Mr Sibal should understand that. Given the critical moment, you should not make any statement that benefits the BJP, ”he said.

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Anwar also defended Rahul Gandhi, saying that the leader of a national party cannot be expected to devote time and energy to a state poll as the leader of a regional team.

He was reacting to comments from senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari that Congress had “shackled” the MGB and that Rahul Gandhi was “having a picnic” with his sister Priyanka Gandhi in Shimla when the campaign was at its peak. in Bihar.

“First of all, Shivanand Tiwari is not an authorized RJD spokesperson. Also, you must realize that Congress is a national party while RJD is a regional entity. The leader of a national party cannot be expected to dedicate time to a state election as a regional leader would, ”Anwar said.

His comments should be seen in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the star activist of the BJP and NDA in the Bihar elections.

Still, in an interview on November 15, Anwar admitted that the poor performance of his party was the reason why the MGB was unable to form the government in Bihar.

“We must accept the truth. Due to the poor performance of Congress, Bihar has been deprived of an MGB government. Congress must introspect where it wavered, “he said.

Congress also responded to Tiwari for making “baseless accusations” against the party, calling him a “renegade” and claiming that his “loyalty” appears to be with his old party, Janata Dal (United).

“Shivanand Tiwari has changed parties several times. He was a deputy for JD (U). It is not surprising that their loyalty still appears to be with JD (U), ”Shaktisinh Gohil, Bihar head of the Congress party, said in a statement.

The RJD also distanced itself from Tiwari’s remarks. “It is his personal opinion and not the position of the party. There is an appropriate time and place for any analysis, which will be done to identify where we lacked cooperation and synergy, ”said RJD leader Manoj Jha.

Hindustan Times