Solo venture costs Congress dear

The Congress has itself to blame for its poor show in Jharkhand, where it has won only six of the 81 Assembly seats.

In fact, the grand old party had lost the battle in the tribal state the day it failed to form an alliance with Shibu Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), since the Congress and the JMM were ruling the state in tandem with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

On the eve of poll announcement, the Congress and JMM had severed ties for the Assembly elections, although their ministers (as well as those from the RJD) never quit the Hemant Soren government.

Eventually, the JMM fielded its candidates in all 81 seats while the Congress formed an umbrella alliance with its old Bihar allies—the RJD and the Janata Dal (United), or the JD(U)—and contested on all the seats, sometimes even against each other.

The move backfired, as is evident from the election result. The split in non-BJP votes made the saffron party’s job easier and rendered the RJD non-existent in the state: It could not win even a single seat, down from five in 2009.

The Congress, which had 14 MLAs in the outgoing Assembly, could bag only six seats.
The worst-off was the JD(U), which contested 11 seats and forfeited its deposit on 10—quite a disaster for a party that had two MLAs in the outgoing House, and for which Nitish Kumar had campaigned at the fag end of the canvassing period.

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