Out of all the opposition parties wailing over their miseries, the RJD in Bihar is perhaps the most unfortunate one. Despite all their efforts to form alliances with Congress and other parties, they haven’t even received a single seat in the Lok Sabha elections. Ever since its inception in 1997, this is the first general election that such a mandate has occurred, bringing the party to an all-time low. Such was the sorry state of the party that even the seat of Patliputra, which was contested by RJD President Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti, was also lost to BJP’s Ram Kripal Yadav. The party’s future looks quite bleak with Lalu serving imprisonment for the fodders scam and the heirs apparent nowhere close to leading the party to political success.
Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav have been having issues over the party leadership and direction for a long time. Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Tej Pratap Yadav, the older of the 2 siblings had quit the party and had even proceeded to campaign against the candidates fielded by RJD. Tejashwi Yadav had also done everything in his power to widen the rift between them which included, fielding Chandrika Rai, Tej Pratap’s estranged father in law from Saran. The election campaign was filled with jibes and snarky remarks by the two brothers, aimed at one another. All these discords within the family had caused immense distrust in the eyes of the people which had impacted their electoral outcomes. After the result declaration, the two brothers have apparently reconciled, but there remains an intrinsic difference in their ideologies which are contradictory to each other and with Lalu out of the picture, Rabri Devi is unable to find a middle ground.
Apart from the internal family disputes, the mahagathbandhan arrangement wasn’t all that smooth, to begin with. The alliance consisted of a number of parties, including, Congress, HAM, RLSP and Vikassheel Insaan Party along with RJD. Ironically, the alliance had been done after much contemplation and careful analysis, after keeping the left parties out. It was being envisaged by RJD that the party will secure at least 20-23 seats. However it was a major failure as the alliance was essentially a varied bunch of leaders coming together, with no apparent unifying factor other than the need to take on the rival BJP. They each had individual political ambitions and weren’t a match for the NDA’s unified front.
It is exactly due to this unified strong front that the voters have shifted their preference from RJD (a party which had dominated Bihar politics since the past 2 decades) to NDA. The NDA in Bihar consisted of BJP, JD(S) and LJP. The front, under the leadership of Amit Shah, Ram Vilas Parswan and Nitish Kumar had formed a formidable trio which the disoriented bunch of parties could not penetrate through. They achieved an unprecedented victory and secured 39 seats out of the total 40 in Bihar.
The loss is such that the party’s survival has come under question. After Lalu Prasad, the party is in very incapable hands and despite Tej Pratap’s tall statements such as “I am the second Lalu Yadav in Bihar”; these elections have proven that he is anything but. Tejashwi has proven himself to be incapable as it was under his direct day-to-day leadership that the party has lost so miserably. Tej Pratap is more concerned with other matters involving his divorce and petty enmity against his father-in-law and those who have ‘wronged’ him. To top of it off, Misa too lost her seat, which is in concurrence to the current prevailing in the country, rejecting dynastic politics. Sadly for RJD, dynastic leadership is all they have to offer. Tejashwi and Tej Pratap neither has the charisma of Lalu nor the political acumen.
The elections overall paint a very grim picture for the RJD. They cannot seem to look past their internal issues, let alone deal with the state’s issues. Moreover, the party is unable to identify with Lalu anymore as, being imprisoned, he cannot be a public face anymore, a face people trusted and associated with RJD. Due to these factors, and NDA’s sweeping majority, they don’t have any supports left. To dust themselves off this extreme low, RJD will have to bring about some major changes, the first of which is a change of guard in the party. By the looks of it at present, it seems as though RJD will simply remain a one-man party, beginning and ending with Lalu Prasad Yadav.