M A I N   N E W S

‘Zara hat ke, zara bach ke....’
Cong theme song for Bihar
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
Zara hat ke, zara bach ke, yeh hai Bihar meri jaan” goes the new remix of the popular fifties song these days.

Although not heard on any of the music channels, this ditty certainly promises to be the theme song of the Congress party’s soon-to-be-launched election campaign in Bihar where it is engaged in “friendly contests” with its UPA ally, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party sources insist, will be campaigning in all the three election-bound states but unlike the other two states, she will be constrained in attacking the incumbent Rabri Devi government in Bihar. “How can we criticise it ... after all, we were partners in the government,” confessed a senior Congress leader, adding,” Sambhal ke baat karni hogi....zara hat ke, zara bach ke chalna hoga.”

Mrs Gandhi’s campaign plans are yet to be finalised and though she is expected to address a number of rallies in Bihar, these could well be a low-key affair. Congress leaders maintained that she will, most likely, confine her campaign to the 80-odd seats being contested by the party. And even here, the Congress President will studiously avoid any references to the Rabri Devi government and will instead focus on issues like development, unemployment, and social harmony. “We will also talk of proving a better administration with a promise to improve on our shortcomings,” explained a senior AICC leader, adding that the emphasis will be on the UPA government.

Congress leaders admit that the party is severely handicapped as it has do a constant tightrope walk in Bihar. On one hand, it cannot go the whole hog and take on the RJD as it has to safeguard the UPA government at the Centre. On the other hand, it has to retain its base and contain its cadres in an important state like Bihar where it has been marginalised over the years. Party leaders explained that if the Congress had been serious about taking on the RJD, it would have contested all the 243 Assembly seats. Instead, it plans to confine itself to 80-odd constituencies, precisely because it did not want to create any division in the secular alliance.

As it is, the Congress has been smarting since yesterday when its Bihar PCC President Ram Jatan Sinha failed to file his nomination papers for the first phase of the Assembly election. “The problem is that everybody wants a safe seat,” remarked an AICC office bearer while indicating that Mr Sinha may not be accommodated in the subsequent phases and will instead be asked to supervise the elections.

Even as the process of selecting candidates for the next phases of elections is continuing, the Congress plans to release it election manifestos for Bihar and Haryana on January 22 and for Jharkhand on January 23. All the release functions will be held in the state capitals, Mr Janardan Dwivedi, AICC General Secretary, told presspersons today.


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