In the past, RJD leader tapped into shifting loyalties of his friends and foes alike

As a section of the RJD Legislature Party prepared to ditch the party, Lalu Prasad must have felt a sense of déjà vu. Bihar RJD Legislature Party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui played a key role in bringing back nine of the 13 legislators who sought to switch sides, sources in the party said. The RJD president himself helped Mr. Siddiqui, it is learnt.

But on many occasions in the past, it was Mr. Prasad who used to engineer such manoeuvres, benefitting from the shifting loyalties of his friends and foes alike. The RJD chief split the BJP within eight months of coming to power in 1990. The saffron party was forced to suspend nine MLAs who formed a separate group and supported Mr. Prasad’s government. In 1992, one group of JMM legislators supported the RJD government when it sought to withdraw support.

A year later, six members of the Samajwadi Party of Chandra Shekhar switched loyalties to Mr. Prasad. Soon after, it was the turn of four MLAs of the Indian People’s Front, the political wing of the CPI(ML), to jump over to the RJD. The CPI(ML) gave up its underground activities and became a full fledged political entity later.

In the 1995 election, the RJD allied with the CPI, but after the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha and the State Legislative Council in 1998 the Communists withdrew support to Mr. Prasad. It was forced to expel six of its members. In 2000, the BSP with five MLAs supported the RJD government despite differences within the party. In his visits to to Patna, Kanshi Ram would call on Mr. Prasad and Rabri Devi, then the Chief Minister.

The BSP withdrew support to Mr. Prasad only to lose its legislators, two of whom were made ministers.