Bihar Assembly elections | Congress will win 45-50 seats, says Randeep Surjewala

Congress general secretary says party has resurrected in State

Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala, who was recently named chairman of the party’s election management and coordination committee for the three-phase Bihar Assembly poll, has been camping in the State for over three weeks and making all-out efforts to end rivalry and lobbying among State unit leaders for the party to win “about 45-50 seats,” of the 70 allotted to it under the mahagathbandhan coalition. He has also been ensuring smooth campaigning for top party leaders across the State. Excerpts from an interview:

The common perception in the State and across is that the Congress has been given more seats than its capacity to contest and field candidates.

It’s hogwash. If the Congress party in Bihar does not have the capacity to contest 70 seats, then why did the RJD concede to that number? Why were thousands of applications from prospective candidates received at the party’s State headquarters Sadaqat Ashram? And why was there a swarm of people up to 2 km outside the gate of the headquarters?

There was talk of intense rivalry and lobbying among State party leaders to ensure party tickets for their kith and kin.

Absolutely not. There are no such things and every State party leader is working hard for UPA candidates to win the poll.

How many seats do you expect the Congress to win, of the 70 it is contesting under the mahagathbandhan coalition in Bihar?

I’m confident that the Congress party will win 45-50 seats or more.

Can you name the seats where Congress candidates will win the poll for sure?

It will be quite unfair for me to name the seats where we’re going to win or lose. For the party, every seat and every candidate is important…it’s best we do not discuss this question.

There has been talk in the State’s political circles that the Congress was also in touch with the JD(U), in case the RJD did not offer 70 seats to contest.

Absolute rubbish. This is classic BJP propaganda spread by a selective captive media of tired and retired NDA governments in the State and Centre. There was no need to be in touch with the Nitish Kumar government, which has been unethical and lost the respect of the people for its abject failure on all fronts.

But the Congress, for the last several years, has politically been dormant in the State and not successful in coming to power on its own.

Yes. For success, we did not understand the division of castes and divisive politics. The central philosophy of the Congress party has been progress and development. Besides, jobs, MSP (Minimum Support Price) for farmers, industry too have been essential components for the party. The party has resurrected now in Bihar. Let the results come out, everyone will realise this.

Earlier, you said that if the UPA government is formed in Bihar, it will scrap the new farm laws.

Yes, if we form the government under the leadership of Tejashwi Yadav, we’ll pass a Bill in the first State Assembly session to scrap the anti-farmer laws. Can PM Modi and Nitish Kumar tell us that if all mandis [markets] are destroyed, how will the farmers will get MSP?

What do you have to say on CM Nitish Kumar and Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi?

The tired and retired leadership of Nitish Kumar and Sushil Kumar Modi has to be relegated as a sad chapter in Bihar.

But PM Modi has been slamming Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav in his public meetings in Bihar as “double yuvraj (double crown prince).

First, Prime Minister Modi should answer three questions to the people of Bihar: 1) Five years ago, he had questioned Nitish Kumar’s DNA…[about] betrayal in his [Nitish Kumar’s] blood and now he is campaigning for him to make him CM for the fourth consecutive time? 2) In the 2015 Assembly poll campaign, PM Modi had said there were 33 scams in Nitish government and why has he joined hands with him again? and 3) Why has PM Modi forgotten the ₹1.25 lakh crore package to Bihar? It is all an attempt to digress, divert and deceive the people of Bihar.

Do you think RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav will be the Chief Minister in the UPA government in Bihar?

Why not? Tejashwi Yadav is a young boy, completely in tune with the philosophy of the Congress. Bihar is the youngest State of the country and needs a young leader like Tejashwi Yadav.

What is the Bihar Assembly poll all about this time?

This election is about new age versus the experience of failure; self-reliance and progress versus division and hate; and new direction versus destruction.

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