Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav is facing political isolation as top leaders and chiefs of opposition parties, including the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left Front, are unlikely to attend his rally scheduled to be held in Patna on August 27.
The rally called “BJP bhagao, Desh Bachao” was being seen as an attempt by opposing parties to strengthen their unity ahead of the next general elections in 2019.
According to Prasad, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and C.P. Joshi, and rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav will be attending the rally.
However, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is unlikely to attend the rally, could be conspicuous by their absence. Congress was in an alliance with the RJD in Bihar before Kumar joined hands with the NDA.
Lalu Prasad Yadav has had quite a journey in politics himself. He first met Nitish Kumar while organizing students for Jayaprakash Narayan’s Sampoorna Kranti protests. Both of them were arrested during the movement and spent months in jail together in 1974.
In 1990, Janata Dal swept the state Assembly elections and Lalu became the Bihar CM for the first time with Nitish as Lalu’s Chanakya, who supposedly strategized the win.
Nitish Kumar resigned from Janata Dal followed by Lalu Prasad Yadav forming Rashtriya Janata Dal in July 1997. In the same year, Lalu was accused of a fodder scam where he allegedly embezzled Rs 9.4 million from Bihar’s treasury in the name buying animal husbandry essentials. Rabri Devi was promoted as CM of Bihar in the same year as well.
Between the years, 2003 and 2005 a lot changed for Lalu and Nitish, who were essentially friends turned foes. Formation of JDU took place in 2003 and Nitish became the Bihar CM in 2005 after defeating Lalu’s RJD.
Mahagathbandhan alliance again changed a lot in their relationship. After Nitish resigned as the Bihar CM in May 2014, both him and Lalu announced the alliance along with Congress. Nitish was announced as the CM candidate of Mahagathbandhan.
All hell broke loose when, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar resigned in July this year, torpedoing his so-called grand alliance with troubled allies Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress, and setting the stage for a new ruling partnership with the Bharatiya Janata Party. It happened after Lalu was raided by the CBI in 12 different locations, across 5 cities related to the alleged hotel scam. His son, Tejashwi Yadav was the main accused.
“They would have grown in stature had they explained, resigned… I heard the voice of my conscience and decided to pull myself out of this coalition,” Kumar had said, referring to Lalu and his son’s alleged involvement in corruption. During all of this, Lalu Prasad lashed out on Nitish Kumar several times as he felt betrayed.
As for now, this meeting against BJP was extremely important for Lalu and can also be called as his next big step. Unfortunately, his supposed support base seems falling apart.
“Slowly and gradually the support base of the opposition has shifted. Nobody wants to be aligned with a corrupt party. Corruption has already started eroding the support of Lalu Prasad. Things are not going to be very happy for him in the coming times. There are allegations against his children as well,” said Vijay Kumar, a Bihar-based political analyst, and professor of political science at the Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, Bihar.