NEW DELHI: The Congress has no option but to play second fiddle to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar, but wants a better deal when the two parties get down to seat-sharing talks for the 2019 national polls.
“We need to negotiate from a position of strength and for that we need a strong organisation. That is the priority and we are working to achieve it,” AICC in-charge of Bihar Shaktisinh Gohil, told the Express.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi appointed Virender Singh Rathore and Rajesh Lilothia as Gohil’s deputies in Bihar. But revitalising the party in the state is a tall order for the new team, said sources.
“The plan is to appoint three coordinators for the 9 commissionaries (administrative units) in the state and later have an in-charge for all the 40 Lok Sabha seats,” said a source.
Since taking charge, Gohil has set out to find out what ails the Congress in Bihar. He was told that the party should reach out to the families that have been traditionally Congress supporters but were lying low.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the RJD won four seats while the Congress could manage only two.
The fortunes of the Congress had improved in 2015, when it was able to bring together arch rivals JD-U and RJD in a grand alliance which defeated the BJP-led NDA in the Assembly polls. But later, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ditched the coalition to join hands with the BJP.
Since then, the Congress and the RJD have come closer, as was reflected in RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s support for Sonia Gandhi’s attempts to forge Opposition unity during presidential elections in 2017. He had also backed Rahul as the Opposition’s prime ministerial nominee in 2019. Rahul, who earlier had reservations on openly supporting a tainted Lalu, has of late bonded well with his son Tejashwi Yadav, who is steering the RJD in the absence of his father who is serving a jail term.