Nearly two decades year after they parted ways, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar shared dais in Hajipur on Monday as they began a joint campaign for the upcoming by-elections in Bihar.
The coming together of two leaders also puts an end to weeks of speculations on whether the two bitter political rivals will actually share stage together at a public event to campaign jointly for the by-elections.
Despite the hype of two leaders joining hands, the turnout at the rally was visibly low.
In 2005, Nitish Kumar allied with the BJP and ousted Lalu’s RJD from power.
Nitish and Lalu are due to address public rallies at Hajipur and Mohadi Nagar. They will continue their campaign together next week as well.
The RJD, the JD-U and the Congress have put together a seat-sharing formula for the by-elections for ten assembly seats scheduled to be held on August 21. Under the arrangement, Kumar and Lalu’s parties will contest four seats each; the Congress gets the other two.
The by-polls are being considered the semi-final event, with the grand finale being the state elections due next year.
The alliance between Kumar and Prasad – who were once prominent young leaders in the Janata Party in the 1970s before forging their own political paths – comes in the wake of the BJP’s sweeping victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
Kumar had quit as chief minister in May this year after accepting responsibility for the party’s crushing defeat in the national elections, in which the RJD could win only seven seats. The BJP, which was dumped by Kumar in June last year, won 31 of the state’s 40 seats.
Incidentally, when the three parties formally announced the alliance at a press conference in Patna on July 30, both Kumar and Yadav gave the event a miss.
Meanwhile, the main opposition party BJP and the CPI-M have slammed the two leaders of being power hungry and compromising their political ideologies to fulfill their political ambitions.