The Congress' performance in the recently concluded Bihar Assembly elections has been rather disappointing for the party. While the NDA returned to power with a 125 seat absolute majority, the RJD emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly, garnering the maximum percentage of the vote share. Even the Left parties rejoiced as they garnered 12 seats in the Assembly. But the Congress in contrast trailed far behind their allies, failing to match even its earlier performance, and securing only 19 of the 70 seats that it had contested.
Since then, the reactions have been varied and at times, rather contrasting. While some made oblique references to EVM tampering, others heaped blame on the Assaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) which was part of Grand Democratic Secular Front and had secured five seats.
"BJP's tact of using (Asaduddin) Owaisi Sahab's party in the Bihar elections has succeeded to an extent. All secular parties should be alert about vote cutter Owaisi Sahab," opined Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
"If the direction of satellites to Mars and Moon can be controlled from the earth, then why can't EVM be hacked," wondered Congress leader Udit Raj even as the votes were being counted. "If elections were held in America with EVMs, could Trump have lost," he asked in a tweet in Hindi.
Congress leader Archana Dalmia also took to Twitter with a cryptic tweet while votes were being counted, wondering if the people of Bihar had fallen into the "trap" of free vaccines.
The rush to blame external factors for the situation had also prompted an outcry from others who urged the Congress to introspect and look inwards to find a solution for the crisis it appears to be facing.
Since then, reports indicate that the massive loss has once again raised questions about the party high command. Even as the official position seems to be rather vague, dissenting voices have begun looking inwards. As per an NDTV report that quotes senior leaders, "Congress's performance is being seen as what dragged the Grand Alliance with Tejashwi Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Left parties down to the ground".
While some say that permitting greater involvement of local leaders would have significantly improved the party's chances, others maintain that the Bihar defeat should not be viewed in isolation. Rather, it should be noted in a pan-India context, including the party's performance in the by-elections in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka.
On Thursday, Congress General Secretary Tariq Anwar appeared to echo this introspective point of view, stating that the party's performance was "not as good as RJD and Left".
"They performed way better than us. Had we performed like them, there would've been Mahagathbandhan govt in Bihar. People of Bihar wanted the same and had made up their mind for a change. We will hold discussions with our top leadership in Bihar, our election candidates and our District Congress Committees, and reach a conclusion. We will then inform the High Command," he added.