The exit of RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav from Bihar’s political arena is going to cause more than a mere tremor. It may not be a cataclysmic quake but political forces in the second most important state in the Hindi heartland will need to be reconfigured. Lalu has singlehandedly dominated the state’s politics from 1990 to 2005 and though he was marginalised in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, he was no push-over. But Monday’s conviction by a CBI court changes all that.
The BJP is on a high with a sense of satisfaction that its bete noire has been convicted in the fodder scam case, which it claims amounts to Rs 5000 crore.
Enthused by the legal victory over its political rival, the BJP is looking forward to score a similar victory over ally-turned-foe JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar. There is a PIL which the Jharkhand high court has cleared, and the first hearing is due on November 22. The BJP is confident that Nitish will go the Lalu way. The charges against Kumar involve a scam of Rs 900 crore, again connected to the fodder issue.
Said party spokesperson Rajiv Paratap Rudy, “The BJP will win all the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.” Rudy lost to Lalu in the Chhapra constituency in the 2009 election. And he is also confident that the BJP will do extremely well in the 2015 assembly elections.
The party’s calculation is that the now leaderless Yadavs, the core consituency of Lalu, will turn to the the BJP because they are opposed tooth-and-nail to Kumar. The BJP also entertains hopes of winning some of the Muslim votes as well. The Congress is almost non-existent in the state.
With Lalu in prison, and Nitish on the way to prison, the BJP feels that it will reap victory without fighting for it in Bihar.
KC Tyagi, JD(U) general secretary, said Lalu’s absence would be felt in the state politics. He recalled that under VP Singh’s leadership, Lalu and Nitish led the forces of social justice and aggressively countered the communal forces. He felt that Muslims and other secular sections will move towards the JD(U) but he was sure that the Yadavs will not come to the JD(U).
The Congress is taking a cautious stand. Its spokesman Sandeep Dikshit said it was a judicial verdict and that his party did not respond or comment on judicial verdicts. And so is the CPI. Gurudas Dasgupta, the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, said this was a judicial verdict and he refused to be drawn into the speculation over the political fallout of Lalu’s conviction.
CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharia said Lalu’s conviction will have a significant impact on Bihar’s politics. He told dna that it may not directly benefit the BJP because the BJP’s core constituency was that of forward and upper castes.
Acharia felt that the political outcome in Bihar would now depend on which side Nitish would go, whether he would ally with the Congress, or moved towards a non-Congress, non-BJP coalition.