Cong office cut off from Patna’s political hotspot
PATNA: What Ashoka Road and Akbar Road in Delhi are for BJP and Congress, Patna’s Beer Chand Patel Marg is for all political parties that matter in Bihar. It is the state’s political heart.
The Congress has no place in this heart because Sadaquat Ashram, its headquarters with a view of river Ganga, is 5km north. Mahatma Gandhi had established it in 1921 on the land donated by his associate, Maulana Mazharul Haque.
The history has a post-1990 gloomy chapter that the Congress wants rewritten. Handling the script are regional allies JD(U) and RJD.
The JD(U) headquarters is on the western flank of BCP Marg as one turns south from the IncomeTax roundabout. Diagonally across the road is the RJD headquarters almost adjoining that of the BJP.
The pre-poll Grand Alliance (GA) has virtually erased the road between the RJD and JD(U) headquarters. But there are too many streets and lanes between them and Sadaquat Ashram.
“Physical distance is no barrier when minds meet,” Bihar PCC spokesperson Suman Kumar Mallik says.
The Congress, he adds, is the smallest of the three mismatched cogs in the GA wheel. But they will roll “smoothly together” to stop the BJP in the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress is contesting 41 of these seats while JD(U) and RJD are contesting 101 each.
Congress leaders say it is not a bad bargain for a party that, despite having ruled Bihar the longest, has no leaders of the stature of those of its allies and rivals. But they admit they have been allotted seats that are the toughest to win.
“There’s no point ignoring the reality. We can start rebuilding in Bihar if we get close to 50% of our seats,” former Congress MLA Harku Jha says.
The party is wary of its 2010 performance. It had won only four seats with 214 of its 243 candidates losing their deposits.
“We are campaigning for each other to ensure maximum seats and keep the communal forces in check,” JD(U) president Basishtha Narayan Singh says.
But three chunks of voters have moved away from the Congress in the last three decades: the Muslims, the backward castes and the upper castes.
India’s first President Rajendra Prasad spent his last days at Sadaquat Ashram. He was a Kayasth, an upper caste that is a potent voting force. Therein lies the irony for the Congress.
Congress headquarters HT