After 20 years of bitter political rivalry, former Bihar chief ministers Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar hugged each other at a rally in Hajipur on Monday as they launched a joint campaign for the upcoming assembly polls, scheduled for August 21.
A combination photo of Lalu Prasad (R) and Nitish Kumar.
Coming together to form a front against BJP’s “communal” and “decisive politics”, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Janata Dal-United JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar said the alliance would save the nation from disintegration.
“India has slipped into dangerous hands. The BJP after coming to power has tried to divide the society to stay in power. We will not allow the saffron outfit to divide the nation. This is why, I and Lalu ji have joined hands,” said Kumar.
On his part, Prasad made it clear he wants to regain the votes of the backward castes and Dalits. “The fight between haves and have-not’s has not stopped. The Mandal vs Kamandal (OBC reservations vs Hindutva) is on and all backward sections need to unite,” he said.
Prasad also appealed to SP chief Mulayam and BSP head Mayawati to unite in UP to stop the BJP, which won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The BJP doesn’t seem worried about the alliance. “The fear of the BJP has forced a cosmetic coming together of individually weak political bodies whose only agenda is to stop the BJP,” said party state president Mangal Pandey.
“It will not succeed,” he added. The BJP won 31 of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.
It remains to be seen whether the alliance will hold water, but it is already being referred to as the paring of “badey bhai (Lalu) and chotey bhai (Nitish).
BJP’s new president Amit Shah mocked that “Nitish had chosen to sit in the lap of Lalu’. The RJD chief retorted, “What’s wrong in it? chota bhai badey bhai ke god me na rahega (Would not the younger brother sit in the lap of his elder)?”
The comment, laced with sarcasm, raised a few eyebrows and was seen as Prasad’s subtle message to the crowd, that he was still the bigger force than Kumar in state politics.
Kumar, who had parted ways with Lalu in 1994 and succeeded in dethroning him in Bihar in 2005 in alliance with the BJP.