Millennium Post

It’s endgame for Lalu

The season of defection and changing alliance is in full swing in Bihar, which is going to witness a triangular contest in the next Lok Sabha election. The political developments that took place during the last two weeks have strengthened JD(U) led by Nitish Kumar. With the prospect of Lalu, Ramvilas and Congress alliance, it was being assumed that the contest would be direct one between UPA and BJP, but with the departure of Ramvilas Paswan from UPA, the political situation has turned better for Nitish, who was facing complete isolation in the caste based politics of Bihar.

Alliance with Ramvilas Paswan has not helped BJP; rather it has helped Nitish to heave a sigh of relief and he immediately tried to reap the political advantage by engineering a split in Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Yadav. Departure of Ramvilas Paswan from UPA was seen as weakening of Lalu and hence the desertion started taking place, though it was checked to some extent with the help of Abdul Bari Siddaqi.

The desertion of RJD MLAs is another story, but the impact of Ramvilas’s alliance with BJP was felt in Bihar in two ways. First, the wave building up in favor of Modi and BJP took a beating after this alliance. There was resentment against that move within BJP itself and most of the state leaders were against Ramvilas Paswan joining their bandwagon. Even among the general public the image of BJP was tarnished by this alliance, since the image of Ramvilas Paswan is not good in Bihar. There was a time, when Ramvilas Paswan was considered as a great Dalit leader and champion of the cause for social justice. That is why he was not only very popular among Dalits, but was also a darling of OBCs.

His performance as Railway Minister had made him the most popular leader of Bihar cutting across the caste lines. That is the reason, when almost all of his party leaders lost election in Bihar, he remained unbeaten in 1998 Lok Sabha election in Bihar. His joining Vajpayee government started his decline. Leaving Vajpayee government even did not help him, though he was trying to make a Dalit Muslim alliance to challenge the Muslim Yadav political combination of Lalu Yadav. He never succeeded in roping the support of Muslims in Bihar. He inducted most of the criminals of Bihar into his party and succeeded in winning 29 of 243 Assembly seats of Bihar. Majority of his MLAs were hardened criminals and it dealt a final blow to the credibility of Ramvilas Paswan as a leader of downtrodden and people belonging to the weaker sections. Most of his MLAs deserted him further weakening his position.

By his own acts, Ramvilas Paswan allowed his downfall and he also fell victim of Nitish mechanism of Dalit Mahadalit divide. Scheduled Castes of Bihar were divided into Dalit and Mahadalit, and the caste of Ramvilas was classified as Dalit, while the rest scheduled castes of Bihar were classified as Mahadalits. The divide confined the base of Ramvilas only to his own caste and his family cult further weakened him within his own caste. This is the reason, why Lalu was not ready to concede more than three seats to Ramvilas.

That is why it was a big surprise to political analysts of Bihar, when BJP offered him seven seats. This alliance, no doubt had weakened BJP in Bihar. There is strong resentment against Ramvilas Paswan among Mahadalits of Bihar. Now with Ramvilas in Modi camp, they are likely to vote for Nitish. It should be noted that Mahadalit forms almost two third of total scheduled castes population of Bihar. Nitish had divided scheduled castes only to create a base among Mahadalits, but they were also enchanted by Narendra Modi, but now they can be won over by Nitish because of their aversion to Ramvilas Paswan.

An alliance with Ramvilas is not going to help BJP in Bihar, so far as success in election is concerned, but it can fulfill its objective to weaken Lalu considerably in Bihar. A BJP leader told this writer that what BJP intends to achieve in Bihar by aligning with Paswan was not to win some more seats, but to ensure the political death of Lalu Yadav, who have been convicted in a fodder scam case and trying hard to redeem his prestige by winning Lok Sabha elections for his Dal. According to BJP calculation, this election will be last election for Lalu, where he would get majority of Yadav votes. Once he loses this election badly, Yadavas will stop voting for his Dal from the next elections and hence he will be completely wiped out from the politics of Bihar. That is why BJP would not mind if Nitish gets some seats from Bihar, if Lalu is completely decimated. This is the reason why BJP accepted to face the blame of supporting Paswan dynasty.

This politics of BJP has really unnerved Lalu Yadav, who is facing threats from almost all sides. His close confidant Abdul Bari was heading towards Nitish and he could be persuaded to remain in the Dal by ensuring him a ticked from Madhubani, but his another confidant Ram Kripal Yadav could not be pacified and ultimately left RJD to join BJP. Ram Kripal is likely to fight from Pataliputra on BJP ticket and face the daughter of Lalu Yadav in the election.

After getting convicted in a fodder scam case, Lalu cannot fight election now. So this means political death for him personally, but he can remain relevant in Bihar politics, if he can make his party RJD win in elections. Since 2005 Lalu is witnessing gradual decline of his support base. Naturally, this election is an election of life and death for Lalu Yadav. Results of 2014 election will decide the political future of his RJD.

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