Bihar fits the bill as a tough minefield for politicians. When the eternal charioteer of Indian politics Lal Krishna Advani’s ‘Ram juggernaut’ was stopped by a maverick Lalu Prasad Yadav on the instructions of his mentor VP Singh, it was believed the flamboyant Lalu had written his political obituary. But it was not to be! October 23, 1990-the day when Lalu Prasad dared arrest an exuberant Advani at Samastipur-marked the rise and rise of Lalu Prasad in Bihar politics. Contrary to fears that Lalu Prasad would lose ground in the state following his bold but assumably anti-Hindu move, the subsequent election in 1991 suggested that there was a groundswell of support for him in Bihar. Infact, the BJP’s tally in the Loksabha from Bihar reduced significantly from 8 in1989 to 5 in 1991 General Elections.
Lalu had to hold off challenges from within in three years time when two of the most popular leaders, George Fernandez and Nitish Kumar deserted the Janata Dal to float a new regional party, Samata Party with Socialism as its core political ideology. Samata Party entered into pre-poll alliance with the BJP in the 1996 General Elections but couldn’t prevent Lalu’s Janata Dal from bagging a highly respectable 22 Loksabha seats from Bihar. Fodder scam tarnished his image in 1996 but Lalu somehow managed to hold on to power in Bihar despite his breaking ranks with the Sharad Yadav led Janata Dal to form his own political front, RJD in 1997. He went to bars in 1997 but was successful in installing his wife, Rabri Devi in the hot seat of Bihar. The 1998 Loksabha election enhanced his reputation when his fledgling party won an unexpected 17 seats cementing his place as one of the formidable political forces in the country. Though, 1999 was a forgettable election for the fodder scam accused and he lost his own Loksabha seat to his bete noire, Sharad Yadav but true to his reputation, he made a triumphant return to centre stage of State politics when he led his party to victory in the Assembly elections. His prestige grew further in 2004 General Elections as his party won 22 Loksabha seats to emerge second largest party in the UPA he became the Railway Minister.
However, all good things have to come to an end someday and a year later, the BJP-JD(U) combine overwhelmed the RJD to end the Yadav family’s long stay in the state’s power corridors. Electoral drubbings in 2009 and 2014 General Elections forced the arch rivals Lalu and Nitish bury their hatchets and fight the 2015 Assembly elections in alliance with the Congress. Touted as the Mahagathbandhan, this mega alliance demolished the Modi wave which swept the state just a year ago.
The 2014 General Elections was a landmark event in Bihar. Nitish Kumar who deserted the BJP over Narendra Modi’s annointment as the party’s Chief of Campaign Committee was fighting an election alone since the party’s inception. A lot was at stake for the Chief Minister who made a name in national polity for good governance. It was believed that the CM was eying the muslim votes. However, he was in for rude shock to see his party bitting the dust in the elections. Modi wave took the form of a tsunami to blow away Nitish and his hopes. The return of just two seats for his party JD(U) forced him to consider a pre-poll alliance with the Congress and RJD.
As predicted across opinion polls, BJP was heading for a landslide victory in the Assembly elections. Another electoral decimation stared at the Grand Alliance. However, when the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat made that famous comment on reservation just before the elections, the electoral battlefield which was heavily loaded in favour of NDA got a dramatic swing. The statement which never called for abolition of reservation was twisted to mean the exact opposite and it came as a bolt from the blue to dash the NDA’s hopes. The Grand Alliance scripted a spectacular victory over BJP fuelling talk of similar formations.
Barely twenty months later, the Grand Alliance disintegrated over the Deputy CM Tejaswi Yadav’s alleged involvement in corruption. Nitish stepped down as CM citing zero tolerance to corruption. It took just 3 hours for Nitish to stitch another alliance with the BJP and form a government for the sixth time. Lalu who was ruling the roost till then had no clue whatsoever as to what had hit his party.
The sudden turn of events may be portrayed as accident but if you believe in what the greatest American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said- In politics, nothing happens by accidents. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way, you will not get surprised to learn that the drama was planned much before. The election which Narendra Modi lost two year’s ago causing a massive dent in his pride has finally proven Lalu and Rahul’s inadequacy as political planners.