Once the triumvirate of India’s caste-driven politics of social justice, Ram Vilas Paswan, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav, came together after more than a decade on Monday. The three stalwarts jointly released a CD to presspersons to buttress the UPA’s claim that the BJP’s ‘sting’ on its MPs being bribed prior to the trust vote in the Lok Sabha was fabricated.
The United Front (1996-98) was the last platform these three leaders shared but the coming elections are likely to see them coordinating with each other after a long period of bitterness. Dalit leader Paswan and backward leader Lalu Yadav parted company soon after the 2004 Lok Sabha elections that they fought together. Lalu and Mulayam have been trying to weaken each other in their respective turfs of Bihar and UP.
The three were stars of the Janata Dal that came to power in UP and at the Centre in 1989 and in Bihar in 1990. Paswan became a Union Minister while Mulayam and Lalu became chief ministers. “The reunion of these three leaders is significant and nobody can stop their march,” said Amar Singh, Samajwadi Party general secretary.
Once part of the Janata parivar, the three now have their own political parties and each of them aspires to prime minister one day.
Cold calculations have brought the three together again. With chief ministers Nitish Kumar and Mayawati on the upswing in Bihar and UP, respectively, Lalu and Paswan need each other in Bihar. Mulayam and Lalu realise that fighting each other is a lose-lose game. And Paswan wants to checkmate the other Dalit prime ministerial aspirant, Mayawati.
Holding this new coalition of convenience together is the Congress, opposing which was the only common cause for these three leaders until 1999.