Delay in finalising seat-sharing for the Bihar Assembly election adversely impacted the Opposition’s Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), Congress leader Tariq Anwar said on Sunday, PTI reported. Anwar, the party’s general secretary also said that Congress should draw lessons from Bihar and complete alliance formalities well in advance for upcoming Assembly polls in other states.

The Congress, which formed the Opposition alliance in Bihar along with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the three Left parties, could manage to win only 19 of the 70 seats.

In an interview with PTI, Anwar acknowledged that the results were “definitely below” the Congress’ expectations and said that the high command was serious about an introspection as well as a thorough analysis of the results.

“There was an environment of change with enthusiasm among the common people for it, but we could not exploit that,” Anwar said. “We had the expectation that with the Congress fighting on 70 seats, it would win at least 50 per cent of the seats.”

Asked if delay in finalising the seat-sharing arrangement hurt the poll performance of the Opposition coalition, Anwar said: “Yes, I remember that Rahul [Gandhi] Ji had said in July itself that we should finish the process of firming up of the alliance and other formalities.”

He pointed out that the Mahagathbandhan did not get the time to “iron out” contradictions that might emerge in an alliance.

The 63-year old leader, who was a member of Congress’ election management committee in Bihar, said there should be introspection into the party’s performance. “We want that discussions be held with those involved in this election, our candidates and District Congress Committees in Bihar and only then we can reach a conclusion,” he said.

He said the Congress needs to learn quickly from its mistakes as elections are due in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry next year, for which the party should be battle-ready.

“We should be ready beforehand and I agree that if we have to go for alliances then the formalities of those alliances should be completed as soon as possible.”

Commenting on the version that the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) dented the alliance’s chances, Anwar said that a political party cannot be stopped from contesting, but asserted that there exists a “common understanding” that the party’s role is “in a way to help the BJP.”

Asked if lack of clarity over party presidency was hurting Congress, Anwar said the party’s election panel under Madhusudan Mistry has already started the process for getting a full-time president.