Will Lalu-Nitish reunion bring ‘jungle-raj’ back in Bihar?

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JD(U), RJD and Congress seal grand alliance in Bihar
It's official now, to take on the surging BJP, JD(U), RJD and Congress have formed a "grand alliance" in the by-polls for ten assembly seats in Bihar next month. The three parties have also come to a consensus over seat sharing for the same.

"A grand alliance among the JD(U), RJD and Congress has been clinched with the JD(U) and RJD getting four seats each, while the Congress will contest in the remaining two seats", state unit JD(U) president Bashisth Narayan Singh told reporters.

A new episode in Bihar's politics:

  • This new alliance will begin a new chapter in political history of Bihar where Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav ended 20-year-old rivalry to seal an alliance with the Congress to keep the BJP at bay.
  • Thriving upon anti-Lalu sentiment across the State, Nitish Kumar became Bihar's Chief Minister with BJP's support in 2005 Assembly poll. Later in 2010, same NDA alliance led by Nitish made a resounding victory by getting three-fourth majority. But four years down the line, Bihar is witnessing a major paradigm shift in political dynamics.

BJP dubs it political opportunism:

  • The BJP has however termed this grand alliance nothing but political opportunism and claimed that the party will give its opponents run for their money after it decimated them in recently concluded Lok Sabha polls.
  • BJP national spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain on Sunday said, "Their alliance is a proof of the fact that the BJP is now the strongest party in Bihar and they do not have the capacity to contest against it on their own. They don't have the courage to do so. This is why they have formed an alliance."

Lalu's 15-years of jungle raj:

  • Even Congress which is praising Lalu now had once termed RJD's 15-year-rule in Bihar as "dark ages". Lalu regime was considered as one of the worst in the political history of Bihar. Crime graph in the state was at its peak and also there were number of corruption allegations against Lalu and his kin where he was alleged to be involved in several cases of nepotism.

Nitish-Lalu rivalry:

  • Lalu and Nitish parted ways in 1994 and the latter left Janata Dal and went on to float his own Samta Party along with George Fernandes. Nitish was reportedly unhappy with Lalu's style of governance and his appeasement of a people of a particular group. The relation between once friends went so bitter that the duo stopped taking each other's name in public. Both the leaders were openly seen criticising each other for two decades.

Adverse impact of Lalu-Nitish alliance:

  • Ever since the speculations over JD(U)-RJD alliance gained momentum , Bihar has seen a surge in crime graph. Several fear that the nexus between the two parties would further push crime graph in State and bring back the ‘jungle raj' that the state witnessed during Lalu's rule in ninties.
  • During January to June last year, 86,798 cognisable offences were recorded which rose to 98,163 during July to December last year when JD(U) alone ran the government, BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav told Bihar Assembly recently.
  • Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had earlier told reporters in Patna, "BJP is not scared. But the prospects of this alliance has generated fear among citizens who feel the 'jungle raj' might return."

With JD(U), RJD and Congress joining hands to stop the BJP, the political equation in Bihar is certainly witnessing a major paradigm shift.

It would be interesting to see whether this political mess created by JD(U)-RJD and Congress will send positive signals to people of Bihar. But chances of a better fortune for both JD(U) and RJD look grim as former is facing a credibility crisis and its association with the RJD will further dent its image. This nexus will ultimately give a boost to the BJP which performed exceptionally well in Lok Sabha poll.

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