Weak link
THE WEEK|November 22, 2020
Congress was the worst performer in the grand alliance. Was the party given more seats than it could handle?
SONI MISHRA

TEJASHWI YADAV HAS always strongly supported Rahul Gandhi's claims of being the opposition bloc’s main challenger of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Tejashwi’s insistence that the Rashtriya Janata Dal align with the Congress is in continuation of his father Lalu Prasad's unwavering support for the party on the national scene.

It is learnt that Tejashwi acceded to the Congress's demands for an enhanced share of seats in these elections—despite strong reservations from within his party—as he was keen to maintain strong ties with the national party. The Congress’s original demand was for 75 seats, but the RJD was initially willing to allocate only 50 seats to it. Finally, the party agreed to give 70 seats.

It is now asked whether the Congress, contesting on 70 seats, overestimated its chances in a state where its relevance has diminished. The party won only 19 seats, performing the worst among the partners of the Mahagathbandhan. It is being debated whether the Congress pulled down the alliance with this performance. It was allocated the second-biggest share of seats in the alliance, with the RJD contesting 144 seats.

The RJD emerged as the single largest party in the state by winning 75 seats, just one more than the BJP, while the left parties in the alliance proved to be the surprise package, winning 16 of the 29 seats they contested.

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