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Lalu makes emphatic comeback, to be kingmaker in Bihar


Patna :  Notwithstanding a string of losses that began with the defeat in the 2005 assembly polls when his party was ousted from power after 15 years and a court ruling, which will keep him out of electoral fray for six years, RJD boss Lalu Prasad has made a resounding comeback on Bihar’s political stage.

The man, who once lorded over Bihar, was pushed to the margins after the 2010 assembly elections when the NDA under incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar won an astounding four fifth majority in the 243-member assembly, winning 206 seats and restricting RJD to a paltry 22, its worst-ever tally.

The once seemingly invincible RJD, with its massive Muslim-OBC votebank, was not even eligible for the Leader of Opposition’s post.

If the 2005 polls marked the exit of the Lalu-Rabri duo from the hot seat, 2010 debacle appeared to have exacerbated the process of RJD’s marginalisation in state politics.

Lalu’s conviction in a fodder scam case in 2013 came as a personal blow to him as it led to his immediate disqualification from the Lok Sabha and a ban from contesting an election at least for six years.

The 2014 Lok Sabha election was a crucial test for the backward class leader which he was to lead as a non-playing captain for the first time.

The results came as another jolt to RJD and Lalu, with the party managing to win only four of the state’s 40 seats.

The successive defeats, however, carried seeds for a future reunion with friend-turned-foe Nitish Kumar, whose JD(U) had also been humiliated in the 2014 election, managing to win just two seats after parting ways with 17-year-old ally BJP in June 2013 over Narendra Modi’s anointment as the party’s campaign spearhead for last year’s LS polls.

Acutely aware of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal charisma and BJP’s growing popularity in the state, they began cosying up to each other after the Lok Sabha debacle.

With Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav playing the role of a peacemaker, the two backward class heavyweights resolved their differences and decided to contest the 2015 Bihar polls in tandem.

Lalu, the wily practitioner of realpolitik, after initial reluctance, agreed to accepting Nitish Kumar as the grand alliance’s chief ministerial candidate.

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