Lalu Prasad Returns As Bihar Kingmaker

08/11/2015 12:47 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Lalu Prasad Yadav (Devanāgarī: लालू प्रसाद यादव) is an Indian politician from Bihar. He was the Minister of Railways from 2004 to 2009 in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, and the President of the Rashtriya Janata Dal political party. He is a Member of Parliament in the 15th Lok Sabha from the Saran constituency in Bihar. He entered politics during his student days at Patna University, and he was elected a member of the Lok Sabha in 1977 as a Janata party candidate. At the age of 29 he was one of its youngest members of Parliament.[4] He is famous for his charismatic leadership and mass appeal,[5][6] and has been criticized for caste-based politics.[6] and the corruption cases against him.[7] Yadav served as the Chief Minister of Bihar from 1990 till 1997, when he resigned following escalating corruption charges in the Fodder Scam. From 1997 to 2005, with brief interruptions, his wife Rabri Devi was the Chief Minister. Her political opponents often accused her as having served as his "surrogate

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 the 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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