An era in Bihar politics appeared to end on Saturday with the Lalu Prasad-led RJD bagging just three of its 40 Lok Sabha seats.
Even Prasad contesting from two seats, Saran and Pataliputra, lost the second one.
For over 15 years, Prasad, 61, had lorded over Bihar politics, winning election after election — both Lok Sabha and assembly — despite the appalling mismanagement, the sharp deterioration in law and order and the utter lack of development in his state. Not even the multi-crore fodder scam, in which he was accused and even briefly jailed, affected his popularity. Even in 2004, his alliance — which included the Congress — had won 22 seats.
But the quality of governance provided by the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)-BJP government, which came to power in 2006, seemed to show Biharis that maladministration and criminalised politics need not be the norm.
Lalu too sought to prove himself an efficient administrator too by turning around the Railways, once he became railway minister, but clearly it cut no ice with Bihar voters.
Lalu, however, attributed his defeat to the division of votes between RJD and the Congress. “We paid a big price for not fighting together.”
Was it the end of the road? “Certainly not,” said Lalu. “Rajniti mein kabhi hum jahaj mein hain, to kabhi zameen mein. (There are always ups and downs in politics.)”