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Explained: Does Congress hold strong ground in Bihar? All you need to know about the equation ahead of assembly polls

Amid all the ongoing internal tussle for power in the Congress party, there are a few political leaders who believe that the grand old party is not gearing up adequately for the upcoming assembly polls in Bihar (Bihar Legislative Assembly Election 2020). However, Congress party officials, who are making the election strategy, are confident of an early alliance with "like-minded" parties. Here's a look at the equations ahead of the assembly polls:

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Explained: Does Congress hold strong ground in Bihar? All you need to know about the equation ahead of assembly polls
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Amid all the ongoing internal tussle for power in the Congress party, there are a few political leaders who believe that the grand old party is not gearing up adequately for the upcoming assembly polls in Bihar (Bihar Legislative Assembly Election 2020). However, Congress party officials, who are making the election strategy, are confident of an early alliance with "like-minded" parties.

Here's a look at the equations ahead of the assembly polls:

The clash between NDA and Opposition 'Grand Alliance'

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the assembly polls are however likely to be held on time, in October - November, despite claims from some parties demanding the postponement of the Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections 2020. Roughly, the election is being seen as a major political battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (United) (JD-U), and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)'s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) against the Opposition Grand Alliance in the state.

In Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has a more fortified base, as compared to the Congress, and in such a situation, Congress is not in a position to lead the opposition political parties in the state. Some Congress leaders believe that differences between senior party members on the issues of central leadership and other factors may affect the grand old party's electoral equation and seat coordination calculations.

However, Congress officials also believe that the controversy arising out of a letter written by 23 party leaders to Sonia Gandhi will not make any difference to the Congress' preparedness in the Bihar elections. Apart from these issues, this time all parties will have to adopt new methods of campaigning in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

15 years' worth of anti-incumbency ahead of Nitish Kumar

With the change in various political equations, all eyes are on whether Nitish Kumar's grip on the Chief Minister's post, something he has enjoyed for nearly 15 years, will be as strong this time, given the anti-incumbency factor.

As the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), a party led by Jitan Ram Manjhi, quit the Opposition 'Grand Alliance' just ahead of the Bihar assembly polls, the cracks in the united opposition wall are already apparent.

Congress projected to perform well in Bihar assembly polls

When asked about the issue of alliance and seat-sharing, Bihar-in-charge of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Shaktisinh Gohil said that the party is moving in the right direction and that "right things happen at the right time."

Shaktisinh Gohil said, "We want like-minded parties to fight together and we are working in that direction. I am confident that in a good environment we will build alliances."

Asked if Rahul Gandhi would be campaigning in Bihar elections, Gohil said, "Rahul's leadership is for the entire country and we would like him to give the maximum time and effort in Bihar."

Impact of Congress' internal conflicts

When asked about the controversy arising out of a letter written by 23 party leaders, Gohil said that it will not have any impact in the Bihar elections.

Shaktisinh Gohil said, "There is an internal democracy inside the Congress under which it happened. The letter should not have reached the media and it should not have been given as much attention as it was. But after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, it is no longer an issue and it will not affect the preparations for the Bihar elections.".

Madan Mohan Jha, the president of Congress' Bihar unit, endorsed Shaktisinh Gohil's statement and reiterated that the case of the letter will not have any impact on the preparations for the Bihar assembly elections. "Negotiations for seat-sharing are underway and the alliance will be finalised soon," he said.

Congress likely to contest more than 41 seats this time

Notably, Congress had contested 41 seats in the last assembly elections in Bihar.

When asked about whether the party will contest more than 41 seats this time, Madan Mohan Jha responded positively.

"Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) will be there, along with Mukesh Sahani of the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP). Other new ally parties can also join," he said.

The Congress is also going to hold digital rallies in the coming weeks, sources said. However, not all the leaders of Bihar believe that the party is ready for elections.

BJP leads the way in digital campaigning

According to former cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad, the Congress campaign should have gained momentum by now but, unfortunately, he said, it is not happening.

"There are a lot of problems at the moment. One of them is, of course, the fact that you cannot meet in public, so digital rallies will have to do. The BJP is far ahead in this game because they have been perfecting this for quite a long while. They have the money, they have the infrastructure and they have the head-start as well since they started digital campaigning as far back as in June," he said.

In addition, Kirti Azad indicated that he was not included in the preparation process of the election strategy.

Bihar Pradesh Congress Executive Chairman Kaukab Qadri also said that the party's preparations are not happening as it should be and that Congress is lagging behind its opponents.

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