Political see-saw between JD(U), BJP in Bihar

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Patna, Dec 14: A political see-saw was witnessed in Bihar this year with BJP sweeping Lok Sabha elections which led to resignation of Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister midway but he hit back by realigning with friend-turned-foe Lalu Prasad to counter the saffron juggernaut.

11 months after Nitish walked out of NDA opposing Narendra Modi, his ruling JD(U) suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of BJP winning only two seats out of 40. Nitish owned moral responsibility and quit the chief minister's post on May 17.


After two-days of high voltage drama at JD(U) Legislature party meet during which MLAs initially refused to accept his resignation, Nitish sprang a surprise by handpicking dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi to succeed him on May 19. Backed by Lalu's RJD and Congress, Manjhi comfortably won trust vote on May 23 in the Assembly.

Bihar was also struck by tragedy on Dussehra this year when a stampede in Patna left 33 dead, mostly women and children, with a probe blaming "collective failure" of civic and police authorities. There were also a series of naxal attacks, derailment of Rajdhani Express near Chhapra and flood threat from Nepal during the year.

With his political career spanning over three-and-a-half decade, Manjhi (70) has served as minister in earlier regime of Congress as well RJD of Lalu Prasad. But, the journey was not smooth for the new CM as well the ruling party. With a large number of party MLAs raising a banner of revolt after being left out in expansion of Manjhi cabinet, JD(U) which faced first real test in the by-election to two Rajya Sabha seats took a major decision to join hands with RJD.

They called each other "Bade Bhai" (Lalu Prasad) "Chote bhai" (Nitish Kumar) but Nitish faced criticism for joining hands with Lalu against whose party's "jungle raj" he fought all along and became Chief Minister in November 2005.

Supported by RJD, Congress and CPI, two JD(U) official candidates Pavan Verma and Ghulam Rasool Balyawi were elected to Rajya Sabha from the state defeating real estate baron Anil Sharma and expelled JD(U) leader Shabir Ali, who were backed by BJP and over 20 rebel MLAs of Nitish Kumar party.

JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, who was defeated in the Lok Sabha election by RJD Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, had no problem entering Rajya Sabha at the same time as no candidate was fielded against him. The coming together of JD(U) and RJD heralded a new chapter in Bihar politics.

Facing common enemy in Narendra Mod-led BJP, JD(U), RJD and Congress formed a grand secular alliance in Bihar. Defending the decision as need of the time, Kumar said strengthening of "mandal forces" was needed to defeat "kamandal" (BJP which had led movement for construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya).

The Lalu-Nitish reunion came as a "sanjeevni" for the secular forces which performed well in the bypoll to 10 Assembly seats in August. 


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