Lalu Prasad Rejigs Mahagatbandhan, But Will the Ploy Work?

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RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has come out with a new version of Mahagatbandhan for 2019 general elections.

Lalu Prasad
RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav comes out with a new plan

The Mahagatbandhan – a political alliance of Opposition parties in UP and Bihar – is to undergo yet another change ahead of the 2019 general elections. The change was necessitated after Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar broke ranks with the earlier version of the Mahagatbandhan by choosing to vote for the BJP nominee in the presidential polls.

Lalu has not released the blueprint of the new Mahagatbandhan, but sources say it will bring together arch rivals Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party of Mayawati under the same fold. He has very cleverly sidelined Mulayam Singh Yadav, the SP supremo.

Whether Mayawati would agree to this new version of Mahagatbandhan is to be seen. It was afterall, not so long ago, that Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh who as the then chief minister had foul-mouthed and threatened Mayawati.

The RJD chief is trying encash on the anger in Mayawati against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after New Delhi launched a series of money laundering probes against her brother and close relatives.

Priyanka Gandhi
Would Priyanka Vadra agree to the sidelining of Rahul Gandhi?

But Lalu’s next suggestion will make the Congress squirm in embarrassment. Lalu wants Priyanka Vadra to lead the Congress campaign in 2019, not Rahul Gandhi. In other words, Rahul Gandhi will be the Congress president (hopefully by 2019), but with no powers.

Lalu’s not so subtle message to the Congress is to make Rahul Gandhi sit in Delhi and come nowhere near Bihar or Uttar Pradesh in 2019 campaigning.

The new move of Lalu is also seen as a warning to Nitish Kumar. But the Bihar Chief Minister has already announced that he will not be the PM face in 2019.

Nitish Kumar
Nitish Kumar may stand to gain by forging an alliance with BJP

The RJD chief’s move will make Nitish forge new alliance with the BJP and this may spell a doom in Bihar for the rejigged Mahagatbandhan.

The move is also seen as a desperation on the part of Lalu even as his daughter and sons have been caught in a mesh of benami transactions and are in the centre of various probes initiated by the Enforcement Directorate.

Finally, it is the BJP that may stand to gain as the leaders of the Mahagatbandhan may find it difficult to convince the people of Uttar Pradesh to vote for an alliance which has two sworn enemies and the Congress which is hated in the Hindi belt. They are pretty certain that the chemistry between the partners would be highly unstable and explode in no time.  

The move will also see a further polarisation of vote bank politics.