Lacklustre show by Congress in MP, Bihar; drags down opposition alliance

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New Delhi, Nov 10 (PTI) A lacklustre show by the Congress in Bihar seems to have proved costly for the opposition grand alliance, as it dragged down the RJD too from the government formation in the Hindi heartland state.

While the Congress lost ground in Bihar, it also suffered significant electoral losses in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, losing a majority of bypolls in key states that saw the BJP surging ahead.

Senior party leaders again blamed EVMs for the losses, with former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh and Dalit leader Udit Raj claiming that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) can be hacked and tampered with, though their party colleague Karti Chidambaram said the EVM system is accurate and dependable, and 'it's time to stop blaming the EVM'.

'What is the reason that no developed country is using EVMs... if a chip is there, then it is not tamper-proof,' Singh said, alleging 'selective' rigging.

In Bihar, the Congress's tally dropped from 27 in 2015 to nearly 20 as per the latest trends available, that saw the RJD-led grand alliance narrowly lag behind the BJP-led NDA.

Though the Congress improved its vote share from 6.66 per cent in 2015 to 9.46 per cent in this election, its strike rate this time was less than 30 per cent as against 66 percent last time.

The grand old party had contested in 70 seats this time with its ally RJD contesting in the majority seats. In 2015, the Congress had contested in 41 seats.

On their part, Congress sources said it would be 'unfair' to say that the party fared poorly as it contested those seats in Bihar which were traditionally NDA strongholds and the JDU-BJP combine had a strike rate of over 95 in the past.

Party insiders said the seats it contested also did not have the advantage of Muslim-Yadav combination and were never contested by it earlier.

The RJD had also not won those seats since 1990, a leader claimed, adding that even in 2015 when RJD-JDU-Cong fought as part of 'Mahagathbandhan', the Congress had won 23 out of 32 seats from this area.

Leaders said the party failed to put up a strong base in Bihar in the last two years after its former Bihar chief Ashok Choudhary defected to the JDU, and could not consolidate its position riding on the RJD support-base.

Shiv Sena, an ally of Congress in Maharashtra, also accused the Congress of being the 'weak-link' and dragging down the RJD.

Sena's Sanjay Raut said had the Congress performed better, Tejaswi Yadav would have been declared CM by now.

Of the 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh, the party lost 19 seats to the BJP and was leading in 8 seats it was holding, with Congress rebel Jyotiraditya Scindia posting big gains for the saffron party.

In UP and Gujarat, the Congress drew a blank in 15 bypoll seats in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

However, one consolation for the Congress was its victory in bypolls in Haryana's Baroda seat, where the BJP is in power.

The Congress held on to its Baroda assembly seat in the bypoll necessitated after the death of its MLA Shri Krishan Hooda.

The Congress also won one seat each in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in bypolls held today. PTI SKC BJ BJ