The fear many observers of the recent Bihar assembly elections were expressing during the campaign was confirmed by the line-up at the oath taking ceremony in Patna on November 20.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, whose clean image got much support for the mahagatbandhan across caste barriers, was flanked on either side by the two elected sons of RJD boss Lalu Prasad Yadav: Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav. They took the oath of office immediately after him. One is to be Deputy CM and will handle the plum portfolios of public works and healthcare. If critics say Kumar the "sushasan babu" has been circumscribed by Lalu, then they were not far off the truth.
May be Lalu, famous for his one-liner barbs, wanted to underline at the oath taking ceremony who the real boss in the new government would be. The ceremony was thronged by his supporters and his 80 - a big number - MLAs.
Two facts stand out in the recent history of this state of 10 crore people - a population much larger than that of any West European country. Firstly, much of the goodwill that Kumar earned during his near decade long rule in the state was due to his efforts in connecting villages with roads and in making primary health centres in rural areas effective.
Now both these portfolios will be handled by Lalu's sons. History has witnessed the RJD boss running the state through his wife, when the law debarred him from holding office.
So those apprehending trouble for Kumar from his former political enemy-turned-ally will not be off the mark.
Nitish Kumar in his third term as CM will have to look constantly behind him when Tejashwi Prasad is handling the roads department. The healthcare department handled by Tej Pratap is an easy target for political manipulation. Kumar might have earned his laurels by ensuring good practices at the village primary health centres.
But experience in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh during Mayawati's rule warns us that political manipulation in this department could earn fortunes for people at the top.
There was also a line up of great regional satraps at the podium including Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader MK Stalin, indicating the likelihood of a greater mahagatbandhan to take on the BJP-led government at the Centre.
The difficulty in hoping the best for this super alliance is not only the history of the modern day Sancho Panza (Lalu) and the Democles' Sword hanging over him, but also the records of some of the Knights who are referred to as the promoters and shareholders of the alliance. Banerjee's Tirnamool Congress, for instance, is deeply involved in the chit fund scam under the appellation Sharda.
The crux of the scam that the CBI is investigating is the misuse of the lifetime savings of the lower middle classes of eastern and north-eastern India. Some analysts are drawing up a super alliance at the national level under the Congress leadership. Many say Nitish Kumar should now project himself as the national leader of this alliance. But such self appointed saviours are likely to flop.
In a childish challenge to the prime minister, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi dared the government to investigate any wrongdoing by him, the other day. Unfortunately, he is yet to learn his lessons in governance. They don't go by street shows; if and when the Centre has enough evidence against the Gandhis or for that matter anyone in the opposition or in the government, appropriate investigation will be launched.
From 2G licences to Commonwealth Games to land scandal in Haryana, is there a single event since 2005, where the Congress or its leaders, including the Gandhi's family has not been involved? The involvement of Stalin's party DMK in the 2G scam is well known. The black history of all these "gatbandhanwalas" can be turned into an epic. The history of these socialists is packed so much integration and disintegration that the moment they announce their grandiose plans for any unification even the lizards will laugh.
Of course, the proposed super alliance with Lalu of the fodder scam fame in the lead is welcome to be formed. But the key question should be if and when will the true Lohiaite Lalu turn on his mahagatbandhan in line with socialists as a class?