Bihar election results – Once a king, now a kingmaker: Lalu rises again.
New Delhi / Patna. Bihar, India | Red Newswire | By TOI. Nov 8, 2015 12:45 PM IST.
“Good morning to all. I had a good night’s sleep, can’t you see?” a cheerful Lalu Prasad said to reporters before counting began on Sunday morning. “We are winning, there is no doubt,” he added.
There was a bigger reason for the Yadav chieftain to be pleased. Almost singlehandedly, he managed to not only raise his party from the ashes, but also did his alliance a lot of good.
The RJD’s showing had been so strong that Lalu himself had to come out with an assurance that ally Nitish Kumar would be the chief minister even if the RJD won more seats than the JD(U). Lalu now seems content to play the kingmaker who just happens to be bigger than the king.
Around noon, trends estimated the Mahagatbandhan leading comfortably in 145 seats, ahead of the 122-seat halfway mark of the 243-member assembly. RJD led the counting in 70 seats, five more than the JD(U)’s 65.
A sweet result for Lalu, for sure, considering the RJD was the proverbial phoenix rising from its ashes. The RJD reached its nadir in the 2010 assembly election. Faced with a strong wave in favour of Nitish Kumar, and with no allies, the RJD won a mere 22 seats. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections also saw the party decimated, failing to return a single MP.
Lalu did not contest these elections – he remains barred from doing so because of his conviction in a corruption case. That did little to stop him from being one of the most prolific campaigners in the run up to the elections. Lalu’s candour and wit have long helped him build an instant connect with voters, and that seems to have played a significant role in the results, not just for his party but also for the Mahagatbandhan.
Whenever Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an attack, Lalu was first off the block to retort.
When union minister VK Singh made a remark referring to dogs in the context of an attack on a dalit family in Haryana, no one hammered him or the BP harder than Lalu. For every jibe that came his alliance’s way, Lalu replied in kind, his famous bluntness weaponised to devastating effect.
Lalu – who can’t contest for office – has fallen back on a script he has used before. The first time around, he propped up his wife, Rabri Devi, as Bihar chief minister. Now, with his children older, Lalu has pushed his sons – Tejashwi Prasad and Tej Pratap – to the electoral forefront, along with daughter Misa Bharti leading many a verbal charge. Both his son led in their respective constituencies, as of noon on Sunday.
Lalu will now be looking forward to playing kingmaker, having proven that whether you are with him or against him, whether he fights an election or not, there are no Bihar politics without Lalu.