Congress needs Tejashwi Yadav to shore up its numbers

More than Rahul, Congress needs Tejashwi to shore up its numbers

Tejashwi has an added responsibility now, he would need to shore up numbers for Congress if he wants to come to power

RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad. Credit: PTI Photo

The battle of Bihar has taken a dramatic turn in the last fortnight.

The first Assembly poll being held amid Covid-19 pandemic, till a month back, looked like a clean sweep by the NDA. But so fast has changed the permutations and combinations at the ground level in the last two weeks that Tejashwi-led Mahagathbandhan is now giving the BJP-led alliance a run for its money. So much so, that Bihar could be heading for a photo-finish by November 10, the counting day.

Posing a serious challenge to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, under whom he served as his deputy in 2015-17, Tejashwi now has an additional responsibility to shore up the numbers of Congress too, if he wants to come to power.

The RJD is contesting on 144 seats while the Congress has fielded its nominees on 70 seats out of 243 constituencies in Bihar. Rest of the seats have been left for the three Left parties.

Ground reports suggest that RJD’s stocks are up compared to any other party. However, it’s not the same for the grand old party, which continues to be plagued with moribund organisation and listless campaign.

Sample Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav’s speech for the Mahagathbandhan nominees. “Aap ko note-bandi se fayda hua? GST ne aapki kamar tod dee? (Did you benefit from the demonetisation? GST might have wreaked havoc?),” the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi told a gathering while campaigning for his party nominee Neetu Singh at Hisua in Nawada. And then he adds more boredom for the crowd by mentioning about Ambani, Adani, Leh-Ladakh and China.

Now contrast this with Tejashwi, who, like his father - the maverick Lalu Prasad, has struck an emotional chord with the crowd. “Naukri chahiye? Sarkari wala? (Do you want jobs? That too, the Government employment?)”, asks Tejashwi. And the crowd roars: “Yes.”

“Sarkari naukri milegi, toh achchi biwi bhi mil jayegi. (If you get a government job, you will get a beautiful bride too),” adds Tejashwi, as the same crowd turns frenzy and assures the RJD leader of their rock-like support.

Unlike Rahul, Tejashwi is raking up local issues (jobs, failure of prohibition, migration) and has connected well with the electorate, thereby changing the poll equations very fast. Lady luck is also smiling on him as the more the top BJP leadership clarifies that “Nitish is the NDA chief ministerial candidate,” the more the voters are getting confused and, at the ground level, NDA workers are looking at their alliance partners with more suspicion.

“I have noticed Congress leaders’ campaign too. In this age of communication, Congress is miles behind in communicating. Neither they are highlighting UPA Government’s achievements, nor able to target their opponents through facts and figures. At this juncture, Tejashwi will have to give Congress a genuine piggy ride to help the grand old party emerge victorious. If the RJD leader really wants to touch the magic figure of 122 (in the 243-member Assembly), he will have to ensure that Congress too wins maximum seats. And only Tejashwi can help Congress romp home,” veteran political commentator Rakesh Pandey, having covered Bihar polls for years, told Deccan Herald.