New Delhi: After being out of power for two decades in Bihar, Congress is ready to sit in the Opposition once again but with the tag of main opposition.
As the first phase of polling in the ongoing Assembly elections is over and the party is getting feedback from the grassroots that the JD(U)-BJP alliance in the state is on a strong wicket, Congress is trying to edge out RJD from occupying the space of the main opposition party.
Rabri Devi is the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly for the last five years as Congress remained a fringe player with only nine members in the 243-member House.
To get the status of the main opposition, a party has to get at least 10 per cent of the seats in the Assembly, and the number of seats should be higher than of any other opposition party.
"If we get the status of the main opposition, stage would be set for the upswing of the fortunes of the party in any subsequent election in the state," a senior party leader said on the condition of anonymity.
Congress is hoping to cross the 50-mark in the Assembly and has chosen the "right caste arithmetic" to upset the applecart of RJD.
It has fielded over 50 candidates from the Muslim community which forms the core of RJD vote bank also comprising the Yadavs (M-Y combination). The party has also fielded around two dozen Yadav candidates to play spoilsport for Lalu Prasad.
Congress leaders admit in private that the development agenda pursued by the Nitish Kumar government and the new caste alliance of the Extremely Backward Castes, Mahadalits and a section of the OBCs led by the Kurmis, give him an edge.
"But even if we have to remain in the opposition, we would like to occupy the main space as it would help make the state politics polarise in two camps JD(U)-BJP on one side and Congress on the other," a senior leader, closely associated with the state elections, said.
He said the BJP could become a marginal force after the elections as its upper caste support base is shifting to Congress with the party fielding 80 upper caste candidates in the elections.
The leader said the polarisation will also happen because of the fact that Nitish Kumar`s social engineering has led to shift of the erstwhile OBC and Dalit vote base of RJD towards JD(U).