It's a do-or-die battle for Lalu Prasad

It's a do-or-die battle for Lalu Prasad

 The six-phase Assembly polls in Bihar from October 21 to November 20 will be a do-or-die battle for Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad, who has been pushed to the margins in the state which he ruled for 15 uninterrupted years.

Given a choice, Lalu would have loved to stitch a grand alliance with the Congress, LJP and the NCP. But with Rahul Gandhi making clear that the party needs to stand on its own, the Congress decided to no more ride piggyback on the RJD. As a consequence, it spurned every offer made by Lalu to sew a pact along with the LJP.

Having realised that the Congress is not prepared to touch him even with a barge pole, Lalu entered into a tactical pact with his foe-turned-friend Ram Vilas Paswan and conceded 75 seats to the LJP, while retaining the rest 168 for his party to contest.

Minority card

The biggest worry for Lalu, as of now, is the three-way split of minority votes. Had the Congress, RJD and the LJP entered into a grand alliance, the minorities would have voted the group to power, as it had happened during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

But this Assembly election, a large chunk of minorities are likely to vote for the Congress, given the fact that its state leadership is headed by a young Muslim leader — Mehboob Ali Kaiser.

Besides, those Muslims who still swear by Lalu will show their inclination towards the RJD-LJP combine. But a third section of Muslims, who abhor the BJP, but has a strong liking for Nitish, will root for JD(U) nominees. This section has its logic to buttress the point.

“It was Nitish, who re-opened the 1989 Bhagalpur riot case and ensured that the culprits were punished,” said senior JD(U) leader Shahid Ali Khan.

No wonder, Lalu is trying to link Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with Nitish Kumar, and asserting how the JD(U) strongman is not willing to desert the BJP.

Development plank

Lalu’s other problem is development plank. Everywhere he goes he is asked the same question — “The 15 years of RJD (mis)rule vs 5 years of good governance by Nitish.”
“What governance? The entire development which has taken in Bihar is because we in the UPA-I government pumped in substantial money in the state. We will expose Nitish for making false claims,” Lalu remarked.

Upper caste

The third and more significant issue is trend of upper caste voters. While the forwards and backwards jointly voted for Nitish in the 2005 elections, much water has flown down the Ganga since then.

Upset over being marginalised after being voted to power, the upper castes have decided to throw their weight behind the Congress, and teach Nitish a lesson.

This is precisely why Lalu, who is in oblivion for more than a year, is apologising to upper castes and appealing to them not to “waste” their votes by backing the Congress because then “Bihar may go the Jharkhand way and throw a hung House.”

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