Tejashwi claims NDA won Bihar by deceit, calls in Congress for 'deep' introspection

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(Eds: Clubs related stories) Patna, Nov 12 (PTI) RJD's Tejashwi Yadav was on Thursday elected the leader of the Grand Alliance's legislature group and promptly claimed the NDA won the Bihar elections by 'deceit' amid a call in the Congress for 'deep introspection' over its dismal performance that thwarted the coalition's bid for power.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose JD(U) suffered a major slump in seats in the assembly polls on account of the rebellion by Chirag Paswan, meanwhile, said it is for the alliance spearhead BJP to take a call on whether to retain the LJP in the NDA.

Congress general secretary Tariq Anwar came out with the candid admission that his party, on account of its poor performance, emerged as the weak link, preventing the 'Mahagathbandhan' from forming its government in the state.

'It was undoubtedly a mandate for change. The NDA won by dhan, bal and chhal (money, muscle power and deceit,' Tejashwi Yadav told a press conference after he was elected the leader of the five-party Grand Alliance, which gave a stiff competition to the NDA before the latter scraped through.

Asked whether the Mahagathbandhan would try to muster numbers to form its own government, he said, 'We will go to the people who gave the mandate. If they express such a wish we will act accordingly.' Quoting election data, he claimed the NDA got only 12,270 votes more than the Mahagathbandhan.

'How can it convert into their victory in 15 more seats than us? We believe that had the counting of votes been fair, we would have returned with a tally of more than 130 seats,' said Yadav, whose coalition has won 110 seats, 12 less than the magic figure of 122. The NDA clinched 125 seats.

He said his alliance will write to the Election Commission and point out the 'discrepancies'.

'In so many constituencies, postal ballots were counted in the end and not at the beginning of counting which is the norm. Moreover, there were seats where as many as 900 postal ballots were invalidated,' the RJD leader alleged.

'We suspect this was done to offset the support we had received from a large number of servicemen who were moved by our commitment to one rank, one pension scheme. We demand recounting of postal ballots in all such constituencies and the process be videographed,' Yadav asserted.

Nitish Kumar, who addressed the media for the first time after the victory, declined to comment on the allegations. 'What do I have to say in such matters,' he replied dismissively.

Senior Congress leader and general secretary Tariq Anwar came out with a flurry of tweets calling for 'urgent and deep introspection' over the debacle of the party, the second largest constituent of the opposition coalition, which contested as many as 70 seats but returned with a tally of just 19.

'We must accept the truth. Because of the poor performance of the Congress, Bihar has been deprived of a Mahagathbandhan government. The Congress must introspect as to where it faltered. Also, the entry of AIMIM in Bihar is not a good sign,' Anwar tweeted.

Echoing Tejashwi Yadav, Anwar also said the NDA won the elections 'yen ken prakaren (adopting all measures, fair and foul)'.

At his press conference, Nitish Kumar criticised the LJP for damaging the prospects of many JD(U) candidates, but said a decision on whether to allow Chirag Paswan's party to continue in the alliance will have to be taken by the BJP, which leads it at the national level.

'.....Those who attacked us...they did not have a suitable candidate but they fielded many against us and some against the BJP, harming us,' he said.

'You make suggestions to this effect', Kumar replied laughingly when asked whether he would ask the BJP to drop the LJP from the NDA at the Centre in the wake of its brinkmanship that scuppered the chances of JD(U) candidates in several seats.

'In any case, it is for the BJP to decide. I have nothing to say in the matter,' said Kumar, who is the national president of the JD(U).

Kumar, who is set for yet another term in office, said the date for his swearing-in ceremony will be discussed at an 'informal' meeting of all the four NDA constituents on Friday.

The JD(U) has returned with a tally of 43 seats, down from 71 in 2015 when it contested the assembly polls in alliance with the RJD and the Congress. In contrast, the BJP, which was hitherto a junior alliance partner, won 74 seats.

The development will not put any hurdle in the way of Kumar's return as the chief minister but likely alter the power equations between the two parties.

However, when asked whether he was apprehensive about being able to function as freely as earlier, Kumar replied in the negative.

'I have always been uncompromising on the three Cs crime, corruption and communalism. There is going to be no change. Not a single riot has taken place since I took over,' he said. PTI NAC ANW NN SNS SK SK SK