Lalu Prasad's RJD got a shot in the arm on Wednesday, when its party candidate and three-time MP Prabhunath Singh registered an emphatic win in the Maharajganj bypoll held on June 2. He defeated his nearest rival and JD(U) leader Prashant Kumar Shahi by a huge margin of over 1.37 lakh votes.
Congress nominee Jitendra Swami and son of the former MP from Maharajganj Uma Shankar Singh were relegated to a poor third position, securing just 33,905 votes.
The total votes polled in this byelection, necessitated by the death of Shankar Singh in January, were close to 7 lakh — a poll percentage of 47%.
The win comes as a morale booster for 'down and out' party chief Lalu Prasad, who dubbed it as a 'mandate against Nitish Kumar' and the first signs of a RJD comeback'.
LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan termed the victory as "Bihar's victory and Nitish Kumar's loss". Chirag Paswan – the LJP chief's son –termed it as "victory of the youth".
Sections in the Congress feel that the Maharajganj result has brightened the prospects of a reunion of RJD and Congress for an electoral alliance.
"The bypoll result shows that the revival of Congress in Bihar is still a far cry. But with RJD gaining back popularity, an alliance with the party cannot be ruled out", said a top Congress leader from Bihar.
"If Nitish distances his party from the BJP then an alliance with him too is an option. But if his chips are down, how will it help the Congress", another Congress leader said.
Some observers, however, say that firming up political alliances would not be the priority for both the RJD and the JD (U) as both parties would like to set their respective houses in order in the coming months. Senior Congress leaders said any decision of aligning with any of these two parties will be taken at a later stage, after careful deliberations.
It was a momentous day in all aspects for the RJD candidate, who secured a comprehensive lead in all the six assembly segments in the Lok Sabha constituency against his nearest rival (see box). "We have broken the caste barriers and forged a new political combination of all classes and castes", Singh said.