The new-found friendship between of Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan has come good winning them eight out of the 18 Assembly seats for which by-elections were held in two phases in Bihar, inflicting a blow to the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ahead of the State Assembly elections due in less than one year.

Not only Mr. Prasad but even senior BJP leaders under conditions of anonymity held that the by-elections were a real vote against the performance of the Nitish Kumar government., This was unlike in the Lok Sabha elections where the voters had other considerations in exercising their franchise.

Additionally, the by-elections were spread across the State and the results were considered as representative of the people's perception against the government. and that This also meant that Mr. Kumar's claim of good governance had taken a beating.

What makes the results all the more worrisome a matter of concern for Mr. Kumar is that the JD(U) could retain only four out of the 11 seats it had held earlier, while its his ally, the BJP, could win back two out of the three seats it held.

The other point to note is that the ruling outfit was mauled despite the fact that the opposition parties, barring for the RJD-LJP combine, had contested the elections separately and still dented the JD(U)-BJP fortress which looked rather invincible not too long ago in the Lok Sabha elections.

While the RJD won five seats, retaining three of its own and wresting two from the JD(U), the LJP won three, the Congress two and the BSP chipped in with one. The victory of an independent also exposed the internal bickering within the JD(U). The Congress put up a good showing picking up two seats at the cost of the ruling combine and so did the BSP.

The most comforting factor for the RJD was that its deserters were made to bite the dust. They included Rammai Ram and Shyam Razak. Reacting to the results, Mr. Prasad said that the people had rejected the Nitish Kumar government, in what he described as the semi-final.

“The countdown for Nitish has started and the outcome will be no different.” Mr. Prasad said declared: “I am back here in the reckoning. I was away for five years at the Centre. I have returned to the grassroots and will work only here among the people. You will see the results.”

He said that his relation with Mr. Paswan was firm and the two would contest the elections together.

Mr. Prasad also said that he had no grudge against the Congress and that his relations with the party were it was still good.