A day after exit polls predicted the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) to be ahead of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar Assembly elections, the Congress on Sunday sent two senior leaders to Patna to “prevent any attempt at poaching.”
Party president Sonia Gandhi stationed general secretary Randeep Surjewala and senior leader Avinash Pande in Patna to oversee the counting day developments on Tuesday and coordinate with all the candidates.
Sources claimed the move is to avoid a repeat of Manipur and Goa Assembly elections in 2017 in which Congress MLAs switched sides soon after results and ‘helped’ the BJP form governments in these State despite the Congress emerging as the single largest party in the elections.
A source said the Congress’ plan in Bihar is to summon the winning candidates from their respective constituencies soon after the results and put them in a Patna hotel.
“A hotel in Patna has already been identified where we will keep our MLAs together,” said the source, adding that Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Punjab are also being considered to keep the MLAs depending on the situation.
Of the 243 Assembly seats, the Congress is contesting in 70 seats as part of the grand alliance and is expecting to win 40-45 seats.
Following the encouraging exit polls, the RJD cautioned its party workers to behave with retstraint on the day of the results.
“All the workers should remember: irrespective of the outcome on November 10, the results have to be accepted with restraint, humility and courteously. Improper fireworks, celebratory firing, rude behaviour with opponents or their supporters will not be acceptable at any cost,” said the RJD’s official Twitter handle.
“Irrespective of the outcome, your politics should be defined by public welfare and their uplift,” another tweet from the RJD, leader of the grand alliance, said.
The exit polls also prompted former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to tweet that people of Bihar will send a clear message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that issues like jobs, inflation, healthcare are important electoral issues.
“I believe the people of Bihar will send a clear message that they are more concerned with jobs, food, healthcare, inflation, fair prices for farmers, infrastructure and industrial development. Will the PM hear their voices?” asked Mr. Chidambaram.
“Mr. Modi believes that he can win every election on Hindutva, Ram Temple, Pulwama, repeal of Article 370, CAA, and branding every opposition party and opposition leader as anti-national,” he added.
Comparing India’s political discourse with that of United States, he said every Indian Prime Minister should speak the way U.S. President-elect Joe Biden spoke in his victory acceptance speech.
“The Indian nation is as divided as the United States. President-elect Biden’s thanksgiving speech is the kind of speech that we want to hear from every Indian Prime Minister,” Mr. Chidambaram said.