The Congress President Rahul Gandhi bungles up when it comes to managing alliances. Many regional leaders resist the temptation of entering into an alliance with the Congress having Rahul Gandhi at the helm of the affairs. Rahul Gandhi’s inept leadership, weak organizational skills, immaturity and inability to take the stand on crucial issues are some of the reasons behind Congress’ treatment as the political pariah. In the recent times, any party which has aligned with the Congress only ended facing humiliation be it SP in UP, TDP in Telangana or JD (S) in Karnataka. After the failed Mahagathbandhan experiment in Bihar of which Congress was also a part of, the SP-BSP avoided including Congress in their grand-alliance in UP ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It is of no surprise that the Congress and its chief were the prominent reasons behind the failure Mahagathbandhan in Bihar.
On Tuesday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar spoke about the reasons behind his party’s exit from the Mahagathbandhan which comprised the JD (U), the RJD and the Congress in the state. The Bihar CM said that it was Rahul Gandhi’s inability to take a stand on corruption charges against RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav which finally compelled him to take a decision against the grand alliance.
Nitish Kumar left the grand alliance in July 2017 after the CBI registered an FIR against Yadav on corruption charges. The CM said, “It has been always my line that there will be no compromise on crime, corruption and communalism. Their (RJD’s) style of functioning was such that it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to work. There was interference at all levels. Their people would telephone police stations with their own decrees.” Nitish Kumar further added, “Rahul Gandhi had famously torn that ordinance. It was the JD(U) which insisted that it (Congress) be given 40 seats and they ended up winning 28. The RJD, despite its old association with it, was never ready to give it that much weightage.”
Nitish Kumar went on to add that he had no other options except resigning. His resignation was followed by immediate support from the BJP. He said, “So I took the decision (to join hands with the BJP) in the interests of Bihar.” The incumbent CM of Bihar also said that despite differences over many issues he gets full support from Narendra Modi government at the centre. Nitish Kumar said, “We have our differences on issues like Ayodhya, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code since the 1990s. My association with the BJP predates the NDA’s formation in 1999. But we have always worked amicably. Even now, we are getting full cooperation from the Narendra Modi government.”
Rahul Gandhi’s incompetence seems to have spread like a wildfire as the regional parties have already started sidelining the Congress. Two strong regional players- KCR and Naveen Patnaik- met last year in December. In the meeting, KCR expressed a “dire need” for the unification of regional parties to provide an alternative to the Congress and the BJP ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This apparent coming together of these allies is a huge setback to the ambitions of Mahagathbandhan as both these leaders have a strong presence in their respective states. KCR’s landslide victory in the recently concluded Telangana assembly elections is suggestive of his impact in the state. Also, BJD’s spectacular performance in Odisha in 2014 Lok Sabha elections gives a sense of Patnaik’s leadership.
After achieving a gigantic victory in the Telangana state assembly elections, KCR is again putting efforts to bring together anti-Congress and anti-BJP parties on the same podium (federal front) for the 2019 general elections. He is all set to meet another strong regional leader- West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. In the past, Mamata Banerjee along with KCR had pitched the idea of a federal front to take on the BJP, without the Congress at the helm of affairs. The fact that Mamata Banerjee has strong ambitions to become Prime Minister is not hidden from anyone and in her bid, she has even started sidelining Rahul Gandhi given his weak leadership and organisational skills. On the other side, the Congress has time and again voiced its concerns about this and has made it clear that the party will not accept any outsider as the leader of the grand alliance and wants Rahul Gandhi to lead the much-hyped united opposition front.