Bihar Maha Bitterness: Why Board And Then Blame The Sinking Ship!


After riding on a palpable anti-incumbency wave and the predictions of clear victory by all of the exit polls the ultimate narrow defeat of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in the Bihar Assembly Elections-2020 is bound to cause huge disappointment and bitterness. Unable to accept defeat the leaders of the RJD first started attacking the Election Commission on a variety of alleged anomalies in counting, and then picked out the main alliance partner, the Indian National Congress (INC), for letting them down. A prominent RJD leader attacked Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi for their alleged callousness towards the election. The leader further alleged that they did not come for the election campaigns attending a very few rallies, but were only interested in having picnics. He also questioned the internal management of the INC and its lack of introspection.


Having said that, we must examine the underlying factors. The RJD under the leadership of a young and energetic Tejashwi Yadav must have been aware of the anti-incumbency wave and the strong public anger against the serving Chief Minister (CM) Nitish Kumar, and also of the strategic Chirag Paswan factor as a vote-cutter. In that scenario, why at all did Yadav’s party allot as many as 70 seats to the Congress or the INC! They must also have been aware of the Congress track record since 2014. Considering everything the RJD should have fought in at least 200 seats sharing the remaining 43 with its allies, more to the Left parties and the least to the Congress. Once one boards a sinking ship, one loses the right to put the blame on it if it does sink later. Some leaders of the RJD have now realized this mistake and are regretting that they should not have succumbed to the pressure applied by the Congress for a larger seat-share. Therefore, it’s an opportunity lost for the RJD, entirely, and not at all for the Congress that had been used to poor performances. Confined to Tejashwi Yadav Vs Nitish Kumar, majority of the people of Bihar wanted the former to be their CM.


Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, has become a monolith in the INC, nobody can either wish him away or accept him. Thanks to his historical position he has always been the punching bag for all political opponents, analysts and even such unlikely observers as the former US President Obama! As a Youth Congress leader initially, Rahul had been the fresh young face inducted into the Congress party, but unfortunately, he got fossilized in that role over the years/decades. The old guards, scared of being forgotten and desperately clutching at the power stick, surrounded and guided Rahul and his mother and Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi as the staunchest of loyalists, for their mere survival.  


With a bright career as a student behind him Rahul had the intelligence to understand the significance of the momentous defeats of 2014 and 2019 in General Elections, and so, he resigned as Congress President in 2019, and was adamant never to assume that role again. The old guards got petrified with fear lest a non-dynastic younger leader got elected for the post. So, they convinced Sonia Gandhi to carry on, and again in 2020 the loyalists persisted on Sonia Gandhi to continue as the interim President of the party.


Thanks to the anti-incumbency factors Congress under Rahul did win three assembly elections in 2018, but the old guards insisted on appointing CMs of their ilk in those three states, and definitely not the promising and younger leaders who worked hard for the wins. Due to the cardinal sin of depriving the dynamic Jyotiraditya Scindia of a CM role, the party lost its government in Madhya Pradesh early this year. They nearly lost Rajasthan in July 2020, again thanks to the same myopic vision of not taking the party’s younger leaders into the scheme of things. This has created dissidence in the party structure with leaders like Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewary and others urging the party to introspect. And, the colossus decided to take punitive action against them, instead of doing the much-needed exercise.


Now, the RJD leaders too are trying to sing with the dissident leaders of the Congress. Kapil Sibal has again alleged that the INC has not been introspecting for the last six years which is true indeed. The RJD also did not have much to boast of with the Laloo legacy still staring and not sparing. However, Tejashwi almost came out of that legacy, establishing himself as a leader of much promise, on his own. But miscalculations within his own party prevented him from becoming the youngest CM of the state.


Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar was sworn in as CM for the fourth consecutive term yesterday with his party JDU able to secure only the third position. No doubt, he is flanked by two BJP Deputy Chief Ministers. And the inconsolable bitterness of the single largest party continues…


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