Post-Lalu conviction: Some observations

September 30, 2013, was an eventful day in the political calender in India. The conviction of RJD chief Lalu Prasad in a 17-year-old scam, Narendra Modi's big rally in Mumbai and YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy's praise for the BJP's prime ministerial candidate were some of the highlights of the day. What do these events point at?

Here are some likely consequences of the developments on September 30:

1. Congress-JDU alliance to emerge

The conviction of Lalu Prasad can lead to an alliance between the Congress and the JD(U). It is an irony that Prasad's conviction came after 17 years, exactly the time period that the JD(U) and BJP remained in an alliance. Today, while the JD(U) has openly dumped the BJP, the Congress also might not see any purpose in allying with the RJD for it's a spent force now.

For many, Lalu Prasad's political career was seeing a resurrection in the recent times but it seems his party's only hope now could be the sympathy wave generated by the conviction. For the Congress, getting close to Nitish is more important before the Narendra Modi factor damages its prospects more in the key state.

2. Congress-JD(U) alliance to continue

But just as the Congress has been divided on the controversial ordinance to shield convicted politicians, it could also struggle to reach a consensus on whom to befriend in Bihar. Nitish Kumar of course looks a better ally to counter the BJP, but there are people in the Congress who feel that Nitish is an expensive bet.

With polarisation getting more distinct, is the idea of third front fading fast?

Senior leader like Digvijaya Singh has sympathised with Prasad while the Bihar Congress unit finds Prasad a more comfortable ally for Nitish could try to impose himself over the lesser ally, just as he had done with the BJP. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi also shares a good relation with Prasad, which makes some believe that the story of the RJD chief might not end here.

Senior journalist like Minhaz Merchant feels it will be wrong to write off Prasad as his party could gather sympathy waves in the next polls by influencing the Yadavs and the Muslims, two main votebanks of the RJD while for Nitish Kumar, the decision to break alliance with the BJP and the anti-incumbency factor could prove costly.

3. Grand alliance of RJD, JDU, Congress and LJP to counter Modi

The constant rise of Narendra Modi's popularity across the country could play a decisive role in politics ahead of the next polls. Modi is keen to improve the BJP's prospects in Maharashtra, which sends the second highest numbers of MPs to the Lok Sabha, by working on a grand alliance of the BJP, Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena to counter the Congress-NCP alliance.

Who knows whether Bihar won't be a mirror image where Lalu, Nitish, Congress and Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party will come togther to counter Modi? After all, they say nothing is impossible in politics.

Each of the anti-Modi units will be apprehensive about his Hunkaar Rally of October 27 and a grand alliance against the common foe doesn't look out of place.

4. End of the third front

The churning could give a blow to those who continue to dream about the third front against either the Congress and BJP. Two Andhra Pradesh parties, the TDP and YSR Congress seem to be willing to explore Modi and that along with the Congress's flirtations with the JD(U) time and again could make parties like the Trinamool Congress and Left disappointed.

The AIADMK can return to the NDA anytime after the polls, given Jayalalithaa's good relation with Modi, and leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati are unlikely to leave the Congress at this critical moment, especially after seeing what happened to Lalu Prasad. Hence, the third front looks a far-off dream at the moment.

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