'People no longer consider Congress to be an effective alternative': Kapil Sibal on Bihar elections

After Congress' poor performance in Bihar elections, party veteran Kapil Sibal has said that the people no longer saw the party as an ‘effective alternative’, and that the leadership was not addressing the problems facing the party.

In an interview with the Indian Express, Sibal said: "The people of the country, not just in Bihar but wherever by-elections were held, obviously don’t consider the Congress to be an effective alternative. This is one conclusion. "

Talking about the party's performance in Bihar and other by-elections, Sibal said, "We lost all the by-elections in Gujarat. Even in the Lok Sabha elections, we had not won a single seat there. In some of the constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress candidates in the by-elections notched up less than 2% of the votes cast. Three of our candidates in Gujarat lost their deposits. So the writing is on the wall. A colleague of mine who is a part of the CWC made a statement the other day that ‘I hope the Congress introspects’."

Kapil Sibal was one of the 23 Congress leaders behind the dissent letter that caused an all-out clash within the party in August.

When asked about the letter, he said that since then there had been no dialogue. "Since there has been no dialogue and there seems to be no effort for dialogue by the leadership and since there is no forum to express my views, I am constrained to express them publicly. I am a Congressman and will remain a Congressman and hope and pray that the Congress provides the alternative to a power structure which has subverted all the values that the nation stands for," Sibal told the Indian Express.

Speaking on whether the leadership was taking the Bihar defeat like ‘business as usual’, Sibal said: "I have not heard the leadership tell me anything. So I don't know. I only hear voices which surround the leadership... We are yet to hear from the Congress party their views on our recent performance in Bihar and in the by-elections. Maybe they think all is well and that it should be business as usual."

In last week's Bihar election results, the opposition won 110 seats. Tejashwi Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) emerged as the largest party but the Congress, which contested 70 seats but won only 19, is seen to have dragged the opposition's tally down. It has led to heartburn in the RJD-led Grand Alliance that the coalition lost out to the ruling NDA by a slender margin to reach the majority figure of 122 MLAs because of the grand old party’s low strike rate in winning seats.

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