Ahead of the Bihar Assembly poll results on Tuesday (November 10), the Congress on Sunday sent two senior leaders to Patna to “prevent poaching” of its MLAs. Exit polls have suggested that the Congress-RJD Grand Alliance with Tejashwi Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate is likely to edge past the NDA in the polls.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi sent general secretary Randeep Surjewala and senior leader Avinash Pande to Patna to oversee the counting-day developments on Tuesday and coordinate with the candidates.
Sources said the move was to avoid a repeat of Manipur and Goa Assembly elections in 2017 in which Congress MLAs switched sides soon after results and “helped” the BJP form governments despite the Congress emerging as the single-largest party in the elections.
The Congress move is indicative of the Opposition’s expectation of a close contest.
The Congress ally, the Rashtriya Janata Dal on its part, warned its workers and supporters to maintain discipline on the counting day, whatever the outcome of the election. In a tweet, the party said there should be no use of firecrackers or rowdy behaviour and civility must be maintained towards the rival parties.
“On November 10, counting of votes will take place. Whatever be the result, we have to behave well, maintain peace. No worker should use colours, firecrackers, etc. There should not be any indiscipline in the excitement of a victory,” read a rough translation of the party’s tweet in Hindi.
In a second tweet, the RJD asked its workers to keep in mind that irrespective of the results “at the centre of your politics is public uplift and people’s convenience”.
The cautionary note from the party comes in the wake of the campaign by the ruling alliance of Nitish Kumar and the BJP, which has kept the spotlight on the law and order issues during the 15-year tenure of Tejashwi Yadav’s parents Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi.
Lalu Yadav is in jail after being found guilty in a huge corruption case that involved irregularities in the purchase of animal fodder.
Through the NDA campaign, multiple references have been made of the ‘jungle raj’ — people were warned against it and told to expect it if the RJD comes to power.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had dubbed Tejashwi Yadav — the 31-year-old Chief Ministerial candidate of the RJD, Congress and Left alliance — as ‘Jungle Raj ka Yuvraj’.