The Yadavs in the middle

Mulayam, Lalu, and coalitions: what a difference 18 years makes.

The epitaphs that were written on the Congress’s tombstone in 1989-1991 as a result of politics hurtling down the Mandal zone also announced Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad as the ultimate victors. With UP and Bihar, what was then 149 Lok Sabha seats melted out of the Congress’s firm grasp within the space of just two years. Between 1989 and 1991, the Congress collapsed like a house of cards — in UP, from 31.8 per cent of the votes in the 1989 parliamentary elections, it was down to 18.3 per cent in 1991 (it currently is a little under 9 per cent, as per the assembly polls of 2007). Bihar too saw a similar story play out.

 

Contrast those moments with now. The Congress is on a visible high. A high symbolised most intriguingly by the complete turnaround in its relationship with the Yadav leaders 18 years ago. Lalu Prasad, someone who would not yield more than 4 seats to the Congress during pre-poll discussions, is now the mother party’s most trusted ally; and the Samajwadi Party is engaged in what is, howsoever tortuous, a seat-sharing alliance

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