'Ready to drink poison to crush the cobra of communalism' is how RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav defined the decision to announce JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate of the grand alliance in Bihar in 2015. As the political developments in Bihar since Wednesday evening played out on our television screens, it became clearer that the alliance, which was supposed to be the answer to a rising Modi wave all across the nation, only came together to ensure the victory of "secular forces". The idea was to clinch the 2015 Bihar Assembly election.
However, the "unholy" alliance between the two leaders, who spoke different languages on issues of corruption and development (the two major planks that Nitish rode on), was seen as a bigger shame for Bihar than BJP losing the elections. The alliance was seen as an opportunistic attempt by Nitish, who was forced to give key portfolios to Lalu's sons Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap.
Both had no political experience at the time.
In fact, Nitish too believed that Lalu was "utterly unfit to govern". According to Sankarshan Thakur, Nitish decided to support Lalu because there wasn't any other choice at that time. "We came from a certain kind of politics. Backward communities had to be given prime space and Lalu belonged to the most powerful section of backwards, politically and numerically," Thakur qouted Nitish in his book, according to DailyO.
Catch News had stated that the stability of the alliance would be a matter of concern. The rivalry between the two leaders and the prospect of a succession battle in Lalu's RJD could dissuade the voters. It was also seen as a partial defeat for Nitish.
It was believed that joining hands with the flag-bearer of jungle raj (RJD) would severely dent Nitish's credibility. Running a coalition government with RJD would nullify the success of development achieved in the past decade, experts had warned. Indeed, the re-emergence of the corruption charges against Lalu and the silence of the JD(U) chief was seen as a taint on his clean image.
The alliance was predicted to fail soon after the elections as it had to carry the burden of the Congress, which itself was embroiled in several corruption charges while in power at the Centre.
Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan had also said that the alliance was bound to fail. The combination of both leaders was not at all formidable, he had said. He had also said that Nitish and Lalu would backstab each other.
Regarding Nitish abandoning the mahagathbandhan, The Times of India reported that even though Nitish was not happy with the conduct of ministers nominated by the RJD, who would take orders from Lalu, it was the "reliable report" of the latter offering a deal to BJP which turned out to be the tipping point for him.
JD(U) sources alleged that Lalu's emissaries had approached two Union ministers offering to pull the rug from under Nitish's feet in lieu of the Centre's help with legal troubles facing their boss, the report further said.
Nitish probably thought it prudent to abandon the alliance himself and ignite talks with the BJP to his benefit.
Despite being strong on votes, The Wire had said that Lalu and Nitish's alliance was a marriage of convenience between two men who had been adversaries for two decades. Both leaders were going through tough times and had lost their political sheen.
While Nitish had acquired the tag of a leader who stood for development, the name of Lalu resonated with jungle raj. The win of the grand alliance was seen as a loss for Lalu, who it was thought would be relegated to the sidelines. The Wire report suggested that Nitish would emerge all powerful if the mahagathbandhan wins.
This has proven true months after Nitish assumed power in the state along with Lalu's son Tejashwi Prasad. Lalu has indeed been relegated to the background with Nitish assuming center stage after he decided to quit the grand alliance and go back to the BJP.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jul 27, 2017 15:52:50 IST