Will Congress ally with RJD and leave Nitish Kumar in the Lurch?

By: Pathikrit
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Lau and Nitish
The recent meetings of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Lok Janshakti Party Ram Vilas Paswan have raised the speculations about a possible Congress-RJD-LJP alliance in Bihar. While the final decision on this has perhaps not yet been taken, dilemma in the mind of the Congress Party is all too obvious.

Congress essentially has three choices for Bihar, It can either go entirely on its own as it did in the 2009 elections, or it can ally with either Nitish Kumar's JDU or with RJD and LJP combine. Even though Rahul Gandhi's quest to have a resurgence of Congress in the Hindi heartland demands Congress to solo in Bihar, the results of the same have not been in Congress' favour in the last few years.

Therefore an alliance with RJD, LJP combine or JDU is the need of the day for Congress. Going solo might make the Bihar battle a four frontal battle with the ruling JDU, RJD, LJP combine and BJP making it the other three. The Unknown AAP factor is also there. With BJP's popularity having increased substantially due to the Modi factor and for the fact that BJP is looked upon as being betrayed by JDU through the split in an otherwise successful alliance, much to the discomfort of the Congress and also for others, the split has not at all decreased the popularity of Modi in particular and has essentially resulted in BJP vote base remaining intact or perhaps even marginally increasing.

Congress essentially has three choices for Bihar

After JDU's split with BJP, there was a general presumption that this was perhaps the beginning of JDU's gradual inching towards Congress eventually resulting in a Congress-JDU alliance for the general election. However it seems that both JDU and Congress are now having second thoughts about the same and thus neither has moved forward with the proposition.

While JDU would have to keep in mind that its ascent has essentially been on an anti-Congress and anti-RJD plank, any grand overture might not be taken lightly by its core vote base, given the massive negative mood in the country over UPA's corruption and inability to contain price rise. Likewise, Congress might eventually prefer RJD and LJP combine over JDU since it RJD has a core vote bank of its own which, even though it might have come down because of many reasons but is still a reasonable one.

On the other hand there might be some uncertainty in Congress over the real gains in terms of having a alliance with JDU since there are unanswered questions about its own core vote bank and the quantum of it remaining with it in the post split with BJP, since for a long time it has been an alliance in the working.

For Congress even though it is always a more comfortable proposition to ally with RJD and LJP since they have worked together for long and know each other's strengths, the issue of conviction of RJD supremo in the fodder case might be an Achilles' heel for Congress. The party is already on the back foot because of several scams during the UPA regime and any effort of Rahul Gandhi to have redemption of Congress might get a severe setback if it fails to justify its alliance with a tainted Lalu Prasad, to its already disgruntled vote bank.

Therefore, even though the curtains have not yet been drawn over the final position of alliances in Bihar before national elections, the biggest loser of a Congress-RJD-LJP alliance might eventually be Nitish Kumar. If his own Prime Ministerial ambitions made him take a stand against Narednra Modi, it could not any way sway the decision of BJP which made it clear that it is ready to give up its alliance with JDU for the sake of Narendra Modi. The massive victories of BJP in the recently concluded assembly elections have sealed the position of Narendra Modi who played a crucial role in the campaigning for the four states.

Eventually a Congress-LJP-RJD alliance might make things tough for Nitish Kumar not just in the ensuing national elections but also in the next assembly elections in Bihar, where it is for sure that coupled with an anti-incumbency factor and a formidable opposition with BJP becoming a challenger from an erstwhile partner, Nitish Kumar might find it extremely challenging to come back to power in Bihar. A Congress-LJP-RJD combine may compel Nitish Kumar to hang on to the straw of an illusory Third Front by forming some or the other kind of electoral alliance with the left parties.

However, politics being a tricky game and the grand finale is still a good three months away, only time would decide if Nitish Kumar would be left in the lurch, if Cong-RJD-LJP alliance would make any difference or if in the post election scenario, political compulsion would force JDU to return to the NDA fold once again.

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