Lalu's Rashtriya Janata Dal passed a resolution this week supporting the merger of the erstwhile Janata Parivaar factions – Mulayam, Nitish / Sharad, Deve Gowda, Chautala and his party. These leaders have faced a massive drubbing in Lok Sabha polls. Modi has dented hard in their caste vote banks and they fear they might go in oblivion if he carries on his winning steak. While Gowda's and Chautala's political careers have almost finished, as in they have limited chances of becoming CM again in their states, Lalu's career also was almost finished after his conviction in fodder scam and resultant bar on fighting polls for next 6 years.
However, Nitish decision to part ways with BJP before Lok Sabha polls provided an opportunity for Lalu to bounce back. In the three way division of votes, Nitish suffered badly while Lalu with Congress got the 2nd highest vote share after BJP.
Lalu's party RJD was almost finished after BJP-JDU won state polls in 2010 for consecutive time. Lalu barely managed 25 odd seats in a house of 243. Nitish blunder has given the lantern which was on way to extinguish a lifeline.
Why is Lalu more excited than anybody else?
RJD-Nitish-Congress combine won 6/10 seats in state by polls after Lok Sabha polls. This has provided confidence to Lalu that combined Janata Parivar can take on BJP might in state polls to be held late this year. In this Lalu could contribute significantly, and his no. of seats could increase from the current 25. This means his group could land up with important ministries and his wife / sons / daughter could be Deputy CM. He sees a revival in his fortunes. Has been out of power for over a decade.
With his samadhi Mulayam being the proposed Chairperson of the rechristened Janata Parivaar he is confident his group will get a respectable share of seats increasing his bargaining chances for ministerial posts.
Nitish is wary of this. He knows he needs Lalu to deflate BJP but Lalu needs him more for his political revival. Nitish knows JDU may have got less votes in Lok Sabha but 64% of people who voted were happy with his govt. performance, so in state polls his development agenda would contribute more to their win (if at all) and Lalu's jungle raj could be a liability (asset being his hold over MY votes).
Nitish knows Lalu will demand more seats which could drive rebellion in his ranks. There is already some rebellion brewing for quite a long time. If people don't get tickets they will jump the bandwagon and join BJP or Manjhi. It's a very thin / fine balance. He also knows Lalu would start interference in govt. matters. Now he is the king, but Lalu considers himself the king maker. Nitish also needs to be cautious about Sharad Yadav and Lalu bonhomie. They could work together to clip Nitish wings.
So this is Janata Parivaar for you – full of egoist tall leaders with independent agendas. Leaders of Janata Parivaar can't live together for long. This is what could help BJP in Bihar polls. BJP would be hoping that merger doesn't take place and seat sharing talks fail. It could win in a three way battle. Interesting times ahead in Bihar.
Politicalbaaba runs a popular blog on Indian politics and elections www.politicalbaaba.wordpress.com
. It has been nominated by The Guardian as one of the online voices providing an alternative view of India and the general elections. author runs a blog author runs a blog www.politicalbaaba.wordpress.com
. You can tweet @politicalbaaba.