Bihar: Political history
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
c.2015: ‘Nitish wanted to return, but Lalu said no’
RJD chief Lalu Prasad has claimed that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar wanted to return to the ‘mahagathbandhan’ within six months of walking out and allying with BJP, but Lalu rebuffed his outreach because he had “lost trust in him (Nitish Kumar) completely.”
In his soon to be released book, the former Bihar CM has also claimed Nitish Kumar sent JD(U) vice-president and confidante Prashant Kishor as an emissary to him on five different occasions, attempting on each occasion, to convince Lalu to facilitate Kumar’s re-entry into the “secular” fold.
“Kishor seemed to indicate that if I were to assure in writing my party’s support to JD(U), the latter would pull out of the BJP alliance and rejoin the mahagathbandhan. Though I was not bitter with Nitish, I had lost trust in him completely. Moreover, I was not sure how the people who had voted for the grand alliance in 2015, and the other parties that had united against the BJP all over the country, would react if I accepted Kishor’s offer,” Lalu has said in his forthcoming book ‘Gopalganj to Raisina: My Political Journey’, co-authored by Nalin Verma and to be published by Rupa Publications India.
JD (U) secretary general K C Tyagi has categorically denied Lalu’s claim of Nitish ever trying to get back to mahagathbandhan. “I can say this in the capacity of one of the top functionary of the JD (U) that Nitish Kumar never wanted to get back to RJD after severing ties with it in 2017. Had there been any such intention, then it must have come out in the internal party discussions. JD (U)’s rejection of RJD is permanent and Nitish Kumar will be the last person to make compromise on corruption. Thus, the claims made by Lalu are false,” Tyagi told TOI on Thursday. When contacted, Prashant Kishor, however, refused to confirm or deny Lalu’s claim that he met him. “I’m not saying anything, not confirming anything. You can write whatever you want,” Kishor said.
Bihar’s deputy CM Sushil Modi, however, rubbished Lalu’s statements. “Lalu has made a bogus claim,” Sushil Modi told.
2010-15: Up to 2103% rise in Bihar MLAs' wealth
The Times of India, Nov 03 2015
Up to 2103% rise in Bihar MLAs' wealth in 5 years
A majority of Bihar legislators seem to have fared much better in creating wealth for themselves than in the lawmaking business, their primary job, over the past five years. JD(U)'s Punam Devi Yadav leads the 160 MLAs whose wealth has increased manifold. In 2010, she had assets worth Rs 1.87 crore.Now, according to her election affidavits, it is Rs 41.34 crore, an increase of 2103%.
Many wonder if such a phenomenal growth is possible even if one takes into consideration the Election Commission's permission to show assets at their current market value. Punam is seeking re-election from Khagaria seat on a ruling party ticket.
Details of Punam's assets appear along with those of other lawmakers in a report prepared by the Bihar Election Watch and Association for Democratic Research (ADR). The report said the average increase of wealth is Rs 1.71 crore in five years.
In defence, Punam says the cost of her land multiplied many times in five years. “ Also, I bought five bighas of land during the period,“ she told TOI on Monday .
JD(U)'s Nawada MLA Purnima Yadav, who is now Congress's candidate for Govindpur, has reported 480% increase in her assets in five years from Rs 2.78 crore in 2010 to Rs 16.14 crore now.
The worth of BJP's Lakhisarai MLA Vijay Kumar Sinha's assets has gone up from Rs 4.13 crore to Rs 15.64 crore while RJD's Darbhanga (rural) MLA Lalit Kumar Yadav's assets have increased from Rs 2.83 crore to Rs 12.89 crore. The assets of Samajwadi Party's Chiraia MLA Avaneesh Kumar Singh have risen from Rs 1.25 crore to Rs 8.18 crore.
ADR's analysis says the average increase in the assets of the 160 MLAs is 199% during the five years.
Partywise, 66 of these MLAs belong to BJP; 52 to JD (U) and 12 to RJD. The list also features seven of Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha MLAs and one CPI MLA Awadhesh Kumar Rai (Bachhwara). The worth of the Communist legislator's assets has increased from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 48 lakh, up by 60%.
2014-15: How the Lalu and Nitish allied
The Times of India, Nov 09 2015
Mayday: When Nitish called Lalu
The evening of May 16, 2014 was as depressing as it could get for Nitish Kumar. Narendra Modi's resurgent BJP had routed his JD(U) in the Lok Sabha elections. As the sun set, he swallowed his pride and called up his ally-turned-foe Lalu Prasad. “He was initially cold,“ Nitish recounted to a group of journalists. “But he eventually called back the next morning.“
Obviously the realisation had dawned on both that if they didn't hang together, they would hang separately. And with the pact between the two sealed, Nitish had given himself a fresh chance. And as the results showed, he has pulled off a Houdini-like act of emerging as the clear leader of Bihar's “secular“ alliance.
The achievement can potentially turn him into the spearhead of the next “secular“ challenge to PM Modi, and Congress and others may find themselves having to fend off pressure from sections of the “intelligentsia“ to declare him the “shadow“ PM candidate. As a prospect, this appeared inconceivable only a few months ago, and would not have been possible but for his fairytale comeback. Beginning with his dramatic phone call to Lalu after the 2014 LS cam paign in which they savaged each other, Nitish succeeded in persuading the RJD chief to contest the byelections in July as one front. Nitish knew that he would not be able to hold his own against BJP and feared that the loss in byelections might spark desertions from JD(U).
The decision paid off with the “secular“ front of JD(U), RJD and Congress restricting BJP to four of the 10 seats in contention -an outcome that restored their battered morale, staved off the risk of desertions, and cleared the way for the formation of the Mahagathbandhan in the assembly election. There was a misstep too. Stepping down as CM for Jitan Ram Manjhi turned out to be a costly bungle, but Nitish spared no effort in correcting it. While his loyalists made life tough for Manjhi, Nitish reversed his decision to quit and ensured that Lalu did not come to Manjhi's rescue.
He also began the project to resurrect the Janata Parivar.The move did not go anywhere but it worked brilliantly in restoring the perception of Nitish as the chief “secular“ warrior who could prevent Bihar from being swallowed up by “communal forces“.
The skillfully-stoked suggestion that Mulayam Singh Yadav will be the “secular“ PM candidate saw the SP boss, by then father-in-law to Lalu's youngest daughter, vigorously weighing in for Nitish whenever the RJD chief 's enthusiasm for a “secular“ front in which his primacy was not acknowledged began flagging.
Interestingly , the period also saw reports based on “speculation“ about BJP, wishing to revive the alliance with JD(U), something which many in Patna saw as part of a psychological operation. Nitish's tacticians were also careful not to put all their eggs in the “Yadav basket“. He opened communication with Congress and found a new ally in Rahul Gandhi, who strongly argued for Nitish to be recognised as a “secular“ player.Lalu initially resisted being railroaded into conceding parity to JD(U) when his RJD had done better in the LS polls, but had to give in.
By the time the talks en ered the final lap, Nitish had gained the upper hand and hreatened to go with Congress rather than wait indefinitely or Lalu to come on board. He said as much in his last meet ng with Mulayam and Lalu on June 7 and left, saying he had to be in Patna the next morning.The threat worked and by the ime Nitish reached the airport, he had both Mulayam and Lalu trying to reach out to him.
Nitish was seen as the Abhimanyu who knew how to break through the `chakravyuh' inside enemy lines. But here was always the question whether he would be able to come out of it. Not anymore!
2005: President’s Rule
The Times of India, Jan 15 2016
Ex-Law Mantri Met CJI, `But Was Scared To Broach Topic'
Former Union law minister H R Bhardwaj said he was under “tremendous pressure from the Manmohan Singh government“ to get a favourable order from the Supreme Court on UPA 's decision to impose President's rule in Bihar in 2005 to prevent the JD(U)-BJP combine from coming to power.
Bhardwaj said he had even met the then Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, who headed the five-judge constitution bench dealing with the case, in this regard, but “could not summon the nerves to broach the topic“. The bench, by a 3-2 majority, had declared the imposition of President's rule a misuse of Article 356, and “clearly politically motivated, based on a skewed report by then governor Buta Singh“.
The former law minister said Justice Sabharwal was a family friend, but a very tough judge. “I could not muster the courage to ask for any favour on the issue when we met over a cup of coffee,“ he said at a function to inaugurate the Moot Court Hall of National Law University , Delhi, named after the late Justice Sabharwal.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who had attacked UPA for imposing President's rule to keep a Nitish Kumar led JD(U)-BJP coalition from forming the government, was also present at the function.
Elaborating on his predicament when the President's rule was challenged in the SC, Bhardwaj said, “I was in deep trouble at the time. So many horses from different breeds were part of the Union Cabinet, and I was told that I would lose my job (if the SC struck down President's rule).“
The remarks were immediately read as a reference to the pressure that Lalu Prasad, whose RJD was a component of UPA, is said to have brought to bear upon PM Singh for the dissolution of the assembly after JD(U) and BJP mustered the necessary numbers to form the government.
On January 24, 2006, the SC minced no words in declaring the dissolution of Bihar's newly-elected assembly unlawful. It said the council of ministers should have verified facts stated in the governor's report before hurriedly accepting it as gospel truth.
The indictment led the then President A P J Abdul Kalam to consider quitting.Kalam had ratified the dissolution at the instance of the Union Cabinet which, in order to secure instant dissolution, secured his nod through fax when he was in Russia.
Interestingly , Justice Sabharwal pronounced the majority decision without specifying what the division among the five-judge bench was. But Bhardwaj appeared to have inner knowledge about the working of the bench and told the media that it was a 3-2 verdict, which later turned out to be true.
Lalu in jail, but BJP-JD(U) fail to breach RJD fortress
The BJP-JD(U) combine failed to defeat RJD in Bihar bypolls despite Lalu Prasad being behind bars after his conviction in fodder scam cases and many in his family facing corruption charges. RJD retained both Araria parliamentary and Jehanabad assembly seats while BJP held on to the Bhabhua assembly constituency.
This was the first electoral battle in the state since chief minister Nitish Kumar parted ways with the Grand Alliance of RJD and Congress and formed government with BJP support in July last year.
The byelection in Araria was necessitated following the death of sitting MP Md Taslimuddin. Jehanabad and Bhabhua assembly seats fell vacant following the death of Mundrika Prasad Yadav (RJD) and Anand Bhushan Pandey (BJP).
Taslimuddin’s son Sarfaraz Alam, who contested on the RJD ticket, defeated BJP’s Pradeep Kumar Singh by a margin of 61,788 votes. The combined strength of JD(U) and BJP, who had contested separately in 2014 poll, failed to breach the RJD stronghold. However, while Taslimuddin won by a margin of 1,46,504 votes in 2014, his son’s margin fell in the bypoll. Sarfaraz, who had won from Jokihat assembly constituency on a JD(U) ticket in 2015 polls, quit the party and the seat and joined RJD just before the bypoll.
RJD’s victory margin in Jehanabad increased by 4,715 votes as its candidate Kumar Krishna Mohan retained his father’s seat by defeating Abhiram Sharma of JD(U). Incidentally, JD(U) was requested by BJP to contest from Jehanabad after RLSP, led by Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, and HAM(S), led by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, had staked their claims over the seat. Manjhi later quit NDA and joined the RJD-led Grand Alliance before the byelection.
BJP’s Rinky Rani Pandey retained the Bhabhua assembly seat that her husband Anand Bhushan Pandey represented before his death. She defeated Shambhu Singh Patel of Congress by 15,490 votes. Rinki’s husband had won the seat by defeating Pramod Kumar Singh of JD(U) by 7,744 votes in 2015 assembly election.
Reacting to the results, RJD tweeted from its president Lalu Prasad’s official handle, “The more you pour the fuel of conspiracy on Lalu, the brighter will his lantern burn. Millions of salutations to the people of Bihar for upholding justice. This is a victory of truth over falsehood.”
NDA, on the other hand, maintained that the bypolls maintained status quo on the three seats. “There was a sympathy wave. Nonetheless, if there was a Lalu factor, why didn’t it work in Bhabhua?” said deputy CM and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi in a tweet.