Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD has been pushed to a precarious situation after its leader Samrat Chaudharay submittied a letter signed by 13 RJD MLAs to the Speaker of Bihar Vidhan Sabha, demanding separate sitting arrangements for them.
Though some of these 13 MLAs, including Chaudhury himself, seem to be having second thoughts and have been making contradictory statements, it is clear that Lalu's RJD has been injured seriously and will limp all the way to the forthcoming general elections.
Lalu who is camping in Delhi and trying to broker an electoral pact with Congress may try to dismiss Monday's incidents as minor but he will know that the party is headed for much trouble in the days to come.
Party insiders claim that the split has to do with the possible tie-up with Congress in the coming elections. Rabri Devi talking to Zee Purvaiya, a sister concern of dna, said: "These people have stabbed us from the back. The voters will teach them a lesson."
A senior RJD leader said: "The leaders who have parted ways felt that the pact with Congress would take away their chances of getting a party ticket from the constituencies they were eyeing."
It is learnt that among the runaway MLAs, Samrat Chaudhary wanted to contest from Khagaria, Akhtar Ul Islam from Kishanganj, Raghvendra Pratap from Ara, and Zaved Iqbal Ansari from Banka. But sources indicate that in the eventuality of an alliance with Congress, these seats might go to Congress, leaving these ambitious MLAs in the lurch.
There are other reasons for these MLAs leaving the party. According to some RJD leaders like Ghulam Gauss, Nitish Kumar is about to expand his cabinet and some of these leaders who split from RJD are eyeing plum postings in the Nitish cabinet as a reward for ditching Lalu.
Nitish Kumar, however, did not react; though speculation is rife that JD(U) has been trying to split RJD ever since it broke away from BJP. Among the RJD leaders Nitish was trying to woo is Abdul Bari Siddiqui.
In fact, in a dramatic statement to Zee Puraviya, Samrat Choudhury said the signatures of the rebel MLAs were procured by Siddiqui himself.
Till a few days back it was expected that Lalu would be in a position to regain a position of strength in the state after coming out of jail and riding on the back of a sympathy wave. Now all those calculations are just hot air.
A couple of days ago, former MLA Dr Ramanuj who earlier made sacrifices for Rabri Devi expressed his desire to contest from Saran constituency to Zee Purvaiya. Within minutes he backtracked as Rabri Devi wanted to contest from there.
Speaking to dna, senior BJP leader Giriraj Singh said: "This is the result of jugad technology of Nitish Kumar. He may have succeeded in splitting RJD but he won't be able to split the vote bank of Lalu. Now there will be aggressive voting that will go in favour of Lalu."
Lalu will now lose his clout with Congress on seat sharing. Besides, the fact that LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan has been leaning towards NDA alters the political picture altogether. Most of the pre-poll surveys in Bihar have predicted a top position for BJP, followed by RJD-Congress alliance with Nitish Kumar's JD(U) forming a distant third.
Immediately after coming out of jail, Lalu went to Muzaffarnagar to win Muslim sympathy. After Praveen Amanullah, a minister in Nitish's cabinet, left JD(U), it was believed that minority votes may swing towards RJD. The fact that there are five Muslim leaders among those whose names have figured in the list submitted to the Vidhan Sabha Speaker proves that the split has to do a lot with the Muslim vote bank.