RJD silver jubilee: High and low points the Bihar party went through in last 25 years

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is celebrating its silver jubilee on Monday and Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi inaugurated the party's foundation day event.

As the party completes 25 years, here's taking a look at the highs and lows faced by it.

Party's formation and electoral fortunes

The RJD was formed on 5 July 1997 by Lalu Prasad who broke away from the Janata Dal. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Kanti Singh were among the other founding members, joined by 17 Loksabha MPs and eight Rajyasabha MPs with Lalu Prasad as the founding party president.

The party's successes and defeats have largely been affected by Lalu Prasad's popularity as Bihar chief minister (two terms between 1990-97) and his involvement in corruption scams. The allegations of 'Jungle Raj' during Rabri Devi's and Lalu Prasad's tenure have been alluded to and also used by the party's opponents, as was seen in the recent state election to oppose the Mahagathabandhan.

The party, which is influential mainly in Bihar but also has a presence in Jharkhand and at the national level, contested the Lok Sabha elections in 1998 and won 17 seats from Bihar. The party's main support base in Bihar are the Yadavs and Muslims.

It failed to perform well in the 1999 general election but managed to win 103 of 243 seats in the 2000 Bihar Assembly election. The party formed the government in Bihar in alliance with the Congress, with Lalu Prasad's wife Rabri Devi occupying the chief minister's post.

Previously too in 1997, Rabri Devi had held the chief minister's post as Lalu Prasad named her to the post after resigning in wake of the fodder scam. Rabri Devi served as the Bihar chief minister for a total of three terms.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the RJD won 21 seats in alliance with the Congress and Lalu Prasad became the railways minister in the Congress led- United Progressive Alliance. As railway minister, he is credited with turning around the fortunes of the Indian Railways and making it a profitable undertaking.

However, the political fortunes of the RJD saw a downward trend and the JD(U)-BJP alliance formed government in the state in 2005 and 2010.

In 2010, the RJD was de-recognised as a national party after being de-recognised in Jharkhand due its poor performance in the state, according to The Hindu. For getting the “national party” tag, a party should be recognised as a state party in at least four states.

There was a break in the Congress and RJD ties in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the RJP-LJP alliance managed to get only 4 seats. In the 2014 elections, the RJD restored its ties with the Congress but again managed to get only four seats.

In the 2015 Assembly election, the RJD was in alliance with the Nitish Kumar-led JDU and emerged as the single largest. Lalu Prasad's younger son Tejashwi became the deputy chief minister.

How the scams hit the party hard

Fodder scam: The fodder scam pertains to the embezzlement of state funds that were to be utilised for the purchase of animal feed and came to light after a raid on the Animal Husbandry department in 1996 . Lalu Prasad was named as an accused in the case for the first time in the chargesheet filed by the CBI in June 1997 and stepped down as chief minister in the next month.

Lalu was convicted along with several others in a case pertaining to illegal withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa in September 201, the first conviction in the fodder scam case but was granted bail in December after being behind bars for less than two months. Following his conviction, Lalu's Sabha membership was disqualified and he was debarred from contesting any election.

In 2017, Lalu was convicted in a case related to withdrawals from the Deoghar Treasury and was sent to the Birsa Munda prison. By March 2018, the RJD chief was convicted in four cases related to the multi-crore fodder scam. in July 2019, Lalu was granted bail by the Jharkhand High court in the case related to the Deoghar treasury, in October 2020 in the case related to the Chaibasa treasury and in April 2021 in the Dumka treasury case.

IRCTC scam: The IRCTC scam case is related to alleged irregularities in granting operational contract of two IRCTC hotels to a a private firm during Lalu Prasad's tenure as railway minister. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed its first chargesheet against Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi and others in August 2018. It also named Yadav’s son and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav. The CBI had also filed a chargesheet against Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife and son, and others.

Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi and Tejashwi were granted bail by a Delhi court in the case registered by the CBI in October 2018.

Can Tejashwi Yadav turn the fortunes of the party for the better?

With Lalu being behind bars in the fodder scam case, his younger son Tejashwi led the RJD during the 2020 Bihar assembly election. Though the RJD emerged as the single largest party with 75 seats, the NDA returned to power, with JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar once again becoming the chief minister.

According to a India Today report, as part of its strategy during the poll campaign, the party's posters did not carry pictures of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi, However, with Lalu Prasad now being out on bail, their images once again feature on the party's hoarding for its 25 anniversary.

With inputs from agencies


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