'We are Not an Effective Alternative Anymore': Kapil Sibal on Congress' 'Hopeless' Bihar Polls Performance

·4-min read

After the Congress' performance in Bihar elections, party veteran Kapil Sibal said the people of the country did not consider Congress to be an "effective alternative" anymore.

In an interview to the Indian Express, Sibal shed light on the party's internal crisis, while stressing on the need for reform to find new paths to run the Congress amid what he called a "communication revolution".

Talking about the party's performance in Bihar and other by-elections, Sibal said "the writing was on the wall".

He said in Bihar, the alternative was the RJD, and that Congress had lost all the by-elections in Gujarat, as well. "We did not win a single seat there, even in the Lok Sabha elections. In some of the constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, less than 2 percent of the votes cast were notched up by Congress candidates in the by-elections," he said, adding that his colleague, who was a part of the CWC had said recently 'I hope the Congress introspects'.

Senior Congress leader Tariq Anwar had said on Sunday that the delay in finalising seat sharing for the Bihar election adversely impacted the Mahagathbandhan's poll performance, asserting that the Congress must learn from it and complete alliance formalities well in advance for upcoming assembly polls. Anwar, party's general secretary and a veteran leader from Bihar, had said there were shortcomings due to which the Congress performed worse than other 'Mahagathbandhan' constituents and asserted that the high command was serious about an introspection as well as a thorough analysis of the results.

However, Sibal questioned that if the Congress had not introspected for six years, what hope remained for it now. "We know what is wrong with the Congress. Organisationally, we know what is wrong. I think we have all the answers. The Congress party itself knows all the answers. But they are not willing to recognise those answers. If they do not recognise those answers, then the graph will continue to decline. That is the sorry state of affairs that the Congress is in and that is what we are concerned about," he told the IE.

Asked about why there was a 'reluctance' to address the issues, Sibal said it was so because the CWC is a nominated body. Urging for the adoption of "democratic processes" in the constitution of the CWC, he said it was not expected for nominated members to start questioning the reasons for the "constant decline" of the Congress in "elections after elections".

Asked about the letter him and 22 other leaders had written to the party high-command urging reforms, he said since then there had been no dialogue. "There seems to be no effort for a dialogue by the leadership and since there is no forum to express my views, I am constrained to express them publicly. I am a Congressman and will remain a Congressman and hope and pray that the Congress provides the alternative to a power structure which has subverted all the values that the nation stands for," he said.

Sibal said the party had not been an effective alternative in Bihar for a long time, and had not been an alternative in Uttar Pradesh for more than 25 years. He added that even in Gujarat, where he said the Congress is the alternative in the absence of a third force, the party lost all the Lok Sabha seats and had not been able to score at all in the present by-elections.

He said the "culture of nominations" must leave the party. "Elections through nominations will not lead to the desired results. Some of us put our pen to paper and said what should be done in the Congress on the road ahead. Instead of listening to us they turned their back on us. The results are for all to see," he added.

He said the party needed to talk with experienced minds to understand the political realities of India, needed because of a "communications revolution".

Sibal said the elections had become of a "presidential nature". According to the leader, the nature of campaigning had changed. "There is a problem also structurally, in the sense that the mainstream media is controlled by the ruling party. So we need to discover a new mechanism to reach out to the people," he said.

He said he had not heard from the party leadership their views on the recent performance in Bihar and in the by-elections. "Maybe they think all is well and that it should be business as usual," he said.