After the electoral setback in the 2005 October assembly polls, RJD chief Lalu Prasad had rued he would have certainly got a referendum for another five years — fulfilling his dream of ruling Bihar for 20 years — had LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan not drifted apart and charted a ekla chalo (go solo) course.
That was partly a correct assessment as JD(U)'s Nitish Kumar rode to victory by getting his caste equations right.
Bihar witnessed an unprecedented backward castes' unity after the Mandal wave in the '90s, giving the RJD chief an exalted position in national politics after he wiped out the Congress and NDA from the Bihar political scene.
Losing much of his political sheen in last five years, Lalu seems to be making amends in an attempted comeback in the forthcoming elections.
He, however, faces the twin challenges of the development plank of CM Nitish Kumar and the Congress' bid to revive its political fortunes.
In a deft move, the RJD chief has stuck a pre-poll alliance with the LJP despite hiccups like Paswan bargaining hard for 75 seats.
Lalu has promised 10 per cent reservations to the economically poor among the upper castes to woo the section that has long perceived Lalu with contempt in the 15 years of RJD rule.
The RJD will contest 168 seats out of the total 243 in the state assembly.
"Last polls, we lost 75 seats by a margin of 500 to 1,000 votes due to the vote division among Yadavs and Muslims owing to the LJP's bid to put candidates in each of the 243 seats from the same community," said Ram Kripal Yadav, general secretary of the RJD.
"This time we do not want to commit the same mistake."
Lalu also perceives that a larger caste equation with the Paswans, Rajputs, Yadavs and Muslims would fetch the right dividends.