The first cracks in opposition amity after the stinging defeat in the Bihar elections surfaced on Sunday, with a senior leader of the Tejashwi Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) calling out the Congress for putting up a half-hearted fight.
"Congress became a shackle for Mahagathbandhan. They had fielded 70 candidates but didn't hold even 70 public rallies. Rahul Gandhi came for three days, Priyanka [Gandhi Vadra] didn't come, those who were unfamiliar with Bihar came here. This is not right," Shivanand Tiwari told news agency ANI.
The Grand Alliance or "Mahagathbandhan" of the RJD, Congress and Left parties fell short of a majority mark when results for the bitterly fought elections were declared this week, despite a tight race on counting day and favourable exit polls.
The Congress was widely blamed for dragging down the coalition, having contested 70 of the 243 seats but taking home only 19. The RJD emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats and the Left posted a surprising score as well.
"I think this is not the case only in Bihar. In other states too Congress lays more emphasis on contesting on the maximum possible number of seats but they fail at winning the maximum possible number of seats. Congress should think about this," Mr Tiwari said.
"Elections were in full swing here and Rahul Gandhi was having a picnic at Priyanka ji's house in Shimla. Is the party run like that? Allegations can be levelled that the manner in which Congress party is being run, it is benefitting BJP," he added.
The Congress, however, had a different diagnosis, saying that a delay in finalising seat-sharing for the Bihar election adversely affected the alliance's poll performance.
The results were "definitely below" expectations, senior party leader Tariq Anwar said on Sunday, asserting that the Congress must learn from it and complete alliance formalities well in advance for upcoming assembly polls.
Mr Anwar, the party's general secretary and a veteran leader from Bihar, acknowledged that there were shortcomings due to which the Congress performed worse than other Mahagathbandhan constituents and asserted that the central leadership was serious about introspection as well as a thorough analysis of the results.