New Delhi: 13 of the 22 legislators of Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) today announced that they are quitting the party. However, within an hour, six of them returned. The split has dealt a severe blow to Mr Prasad's plans for a comeback as a major political player in Bihar in the national elections, due by May.
Following are the five possible scenarios that can now play out:
- Renders Lalu Prasad Yadav considerably weak. The RJD chief, who has been convicted in one of the fodder scam cases and has been barred from contesting elections for 10 years, will now come under pressure to concede more seats to his prospective alliance partners - Congress, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the NCP - for the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress is demanding 15 seats, the LJP 10 and the NCP two. There are 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar. The LJP is already sending feelers to the BJP.
- As a corollary, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's hopes of getting more seats for his party, and the UPA, will suffer a setback. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress could only win two seats from Bihar. After courting the JD(U) for sometime, the Mr Gandhi finally settled for an alliance with the RJD with the aim of bagging more seats from Bihar.
- The RJD's M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) base will come under stress. The two communities comprise 14 per cent each of the state's electorate. The breakaway group of 13 RJD lawmakers, interestingly, has five Muslim members. Their decision to back the Janata Dal (United) strengthens chief minister Nitish Kumar's claim of being the most vociferous champion of the Muslim cause. The JD(U) emerges as a powerful destination for the community in the national elections.
- Cements the JD(U)'s position as the ruling party. Before the split in the RJD and the breakaway group's decision to back the ruling party in Bihar, the JD(U) was very precariously perched in the Bihar assembly. It had 115 lawmakers, but its numbers swelled to 122 in the 243-member assembly after luring independents and two of the three LJP lawmakers.
- An indirect beneficiary of today's split in the RJD could be the BJP. A section of the numerically-dominant Yadav community may be inclined to back Narendra Modi's BJP. The community has been pushed to the margins in the last nine years of JD(U) rule, and have sworn revenge. With Lalu Prasad becoming vulnerable, his community members may be forced to do business with the BJP.