New Delhi: Former Union Minister Shakeel Ahmad, suspended by the Congress for contesting the Lok Sabha polls as an independent from Madhubani, has said the partys action against him was harsh and he contested as the candidate of the Grand Alliance was "weak" to defeat the BJP.
He also said that the Congress, which is contesting nine of the 49 seats in Bihar, should have contested at least 12 seats in the state as part of alliance.
"Congress got less seats. It should have got at least 12 seats. The negotiations should have been done in a better way. It led to demoralization in Bihar Congress," Ahmad told IANS in an interview.
He said the sole purpose of alliance was to defeat the BJP but ticket from the seat was given to a weak candidate of a new party.
"The candidate who was put up by a totally new party was too weak to contest against BJP. So I decided to contest independently," he said.
Ahmad, a former MP from Madhubani, said his information was that the state Congress leaders who were negotiating with RJD did not seek this seat "under the influence of an RJD leader".
However, Congress President Rahul Gandhi tried at the eleventh hour to get the seat for the party but it was too late.
Ahmad said suspension was not expulsion and he had not left the Congress. "I was in Congress, I am in Congress and I will remain in Congress throughout my life."
Ahmad said that Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had also put up a candidate at Chatra in Jharkhand against the common candidate of the alliance in the state.
He said he had requested the party that he should be given the party symbol or its support to fight as an Independent.
"I did not get support and was suspended on the eve of polling day," Ahmad said.
He said the party has a right to take action. "But in these circumstances when other partners of the alliance are openly going against alliance ethos and putting up candidates directly and indirectly, it looks harsh. And that too on the eve of polling day," he said.
Asked if the suspension had damaged his prospects, he said there was a mixed response.
"It had a little bit demoralising effect on my well wishers but it was reported in the media that it was done under pressure from (RJD leader) Tejashwi Yadav. So certain sections of the society became sympathetic to me," he said.
Asked about his chances of winning, Ahmad said: "All I can say at this juncture is that I am in the contest".
The Congress is contesting the Lok Sabha polls as part of Grand Alliance that includes Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) among others.
In Madhubani, the alliance candidate was Badri Purve of fledgling VIP.