Bihar may see revival of Congress-RJD alliance

With Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad holding one to one meeting with Sonia Gandhi and then with Rahul Gandhi in the last one week, the stage has been set to revive the grand old alliance of 2004 Lok Sabha elections when the Congress, RJD and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) had contested together and bagged 29 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

In 2009, the Congress contested separately due to Lalu’s “ditch”. This led to rout of the RJD as well as the Congress. The LJP, too, was decimated as it could not even open its account, with party president Ram Vilas Paswan himself losing from the constituency from where he had once entered into the Guinness World Records for winning with huge margin.

But as the talks of 2014 poll pact between the three UPA partners gain momentum, one person who must be losing his sleep is Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) strongman knows for sure that amid all the rhetoric about development, it’s the caste-religious equation which eventually determines who will wrest Bihar.  

Till now, he has won all the polls comfortably since 2005 simply because he had BJP as the arm candy. 

To understand the poll arithmetic, take the case of 2010 Assembly election results. The JD-U got 115 seats with 23 per cent votes and the BJP bagged 91 seats with 16.5 per cent votes.

 Together, the JD-U-BJP got 39.5 pc votes and 206 seats, i.e, four-fifth majority in the 243 member-Assembly, a rare feat by any alliance in Bihar’s history. On the other hand, the RJD got 19 per cent votes, nearly three pc more than the BJP, but still it could win only 22 seats.
 The LJP got around seven pc votes and three seats, whereas the Congress got eight pc votes and four seats. Had these three parties contested together, Nitish could not have achieved a landslide.

Now that the BJP is not with him, Nitish knows for sure that upper caste votes will predominantly go to the saffron party. And if his bête noire Lalu is able to stitch an alliance with the Congress and the LJP, the biggest loser will be the JD-U in the three-cornered contest.

Notably, Nitish’s fellow castemen – Kurmis – constitute a meagre three per cent while Lalu’s brethren – Yadavs - 12 per cent, apart from 17 pc Muslims who are expected to align with whoever is more competent in stopping NaMo in his tracks. Though the Congress heir apparent Rahul was keen to have a pact with the JD-U, his mother’s choice on a “more reliable” Lalu has upset JD-U applecart. Though the JD-U in private wishes for some sort of alliance with the Congress to have taken place, it is of the view that “why should we join hands with the Congress which is facing huge anti-incumbency factor” after the grand old party reportedly spurned their offer.

Many Bihar Congress leaders are of the view that post-conviction in fodder scam, Lalu’s  supporters would this time vote aggressively for him which would eventually benefit the Congress that has been on decline ever since it lost power in 1990 Assembly polls.

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