Timeline: Tracing Nitish & Lalu’s Love-Hate Relationship

Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar share what we call topsy-turvy, love-hate, basically “it’s complicated” relationship.

6 min read
Timeline: Tracing Nitish & Lalu’s Love-Hate Relationship

The Mahagathbandhan in Bihar effectively ended on 26 July, with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar filing his resignation in the face of serious charges against Tejashwi Yadav – cabinet minister and son of alliance partner Lalu Yadav.

How do we describe a relationship between two people who have been constantly switching between being friends and foes? Topsy-turvy? Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Janata Dal United supremo Nitish Kumar Yadav stand testimony to what we call a love-hate relationship – basically, “It's complicated”.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday met with his deputy chief minister - Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu Prasad's heir apparant after he had been named by the CBI in the cash for hotel scam along with his other family members on 7 July.

Clearly, all is not well in the Mahagatbandhan, following Nitish’s support to NDA Presidential candidate, and Lalu being raided by the CBI.

It remains to be seen what will happen between the tumultuous pair in the days to come. We trace back their relationship from now to their student days, where they met and became comrades-in-hands.


18 July 2017 – Nitish holds private meeting with Tejashwi Yadav after Cabinet meeting.

15 July 2017 – Tejashwi Yadav skips an official World Youth Skills Day function of the government chaired by Nitish. RJD says Tejashwi was unwell. Earlier, his nameplate on the dias was covered with a cloth, but was later removed.

14 July 2017 – Reports emerge suggesting that Congress president Sonia Gandhi called both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad to help them solve differences. Lalu Prasad says he is “not aware of such calls being made”. He added that he will not let anyone break the Mahagatbandhan.

10 July 2017 – RJD holds meeting, rules out Tejashwi Yadav’s resignation.


8 July 2017 – Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti’s residence and properties in New Delhi raided.

The case was registered on the allegations of awarding the tender for development, maintenance and operation of hotels at Ranchi and Puri to a private company dealing with hotels in the year 2006.

7 July 2017 – Lalu raided by the CBI in 12 locations, across 5 cities, related to the alleged land for hotel scam. His son and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav named as an accused by the CBI. Wife Rabri Devi and business associates also named in the FIR.

21 June 2017 – Nitish pledges support to Ram Nath Kovind, NDA's candidate for Presidency.


27 May 2017 – Nitish attends lunch hosted by PM Modi, in honour of visiting Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. Nitish also holds a private meeting with Modi.

26 May 2017 – A day earlier, Nitish skips lunch hosted by Congress President Sonia Gandhi to discuss joint Opposition candidate for presidency. Sends representative from JDU.

5 January 2017 – PM Narendra Modi shares stage with Nitish Kumar. Modi praised Nitish for ‘nasha-mukti abhiyan’ and said it would inspire others.

9 November 2016 – Contrary to Opposition views, Nitish calls demonetisation a “direct” move to wipe out black money. His alliance partner Lalu called the Centre’s move a “fraud”.


29 September 2016 – Nitish one of the first to come out in praise of Centre’s surgical strike move.

11 September 2016 – Nitish hits back at Shahabuddin’s statement saying that people of Bihar know whom they have pledged their support to.


10 September 2016 – Mafia don and politician Shahabuddin, within minutes of being released from jail, praised his party boss Lalu Prasad and termed Nitish as a “chief minister of circumstances”.

21 January 2016 – RJD national vice president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh blamed Nitish Kumar for law and order lapses in the state by saying that Home portfolio is with CM.

8 November 2015 – Mahagatbandhan wins massive mandate, forms the government. They win a massive 178 out of 243 Assembly seats.


5 June 2015 – Nitish Kumar announced as the CM candidate of Mahagatbandhan.

27 July 2014 – Mahagatbandhan announced by Nitish & Lalu along with the Congress.

Following the drubbing received in the Lok Sabha polls and with an eye on the upcoming state Assembly elections in 2015, comrades-in-arms-turned-sworn-enemies went back to being friends again. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and JDU President Sharad Yadav are said to have played an important role in bringing together Nitish and Lalu. 

18 May 2014 – Nitish Kumar resigns as the CM of Bihar after his party won just 2 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats. NDA alliance wins 28 seats.

13 September 2013 – Narendra Modi named BJP’s PM candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

19 June 2013 – JDU seeks trust vote as Nitish splits from the NDA. Sails through with Congress support. The NDA and the RJD vote against Nitish.


18 May 2014 – Nitish Kumar resigns as the CM of Bihar after his party won just 2 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats. NDA alliance wins 28 seats.

13 September 2013 – Narendra Modi named BJP’s PM candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

19 June 2013 – JDU seeks trust vote as Nitish splits from the NDA. Sails through with Congress support. The NDA and the RJD vote against Nitish.

26 November 2010 – Nitish Kumar sworn in as Bihar CM for the second time.


October 2005 – In the re-election for state legislature, Nitish’s JDU defeats Lalu’s RJD with the BJP’s support. Nitish becomes Bihar CM for the first time.

30 October 2003 – Sharad Yadav’s Janata Dal merges with Samta party forming Janata Dal United, with Nitish at the helm.

11 March 2000 – Despite scam, the RJD defeats Nitish’s Samta party and wins another term. Rabri Devi sworn in as CM again.

25 July 1997 – Scam-tainted Lalu surrenders to the CBI. Wife Rabri Devi promoted as chief minister of Bihar.

5 July 1997 – Lalu breaks away from Janata Dal, forms Rashtriya Janata Dal.

17 June 1997 – Bihar Governor AR Kidwai grants permission to prosecute the then chief minister Lalu in the fodder scam where he allegedly embezzled Rs 9.4 million from Bihar’s treasury in the name of buying animal husbandry essentials.


June 1994 – Nitish Kumar resigns from Janata Dal. He forms the Samta Party with George Fernandes. The two are a credible threat to Lalu’s core constituency – a minority-Yadav-Dalit combination which constitutes over 40% of Bihar’s population.

February 1994 - Nitish joins a Janata Dal faction's internal revolt against Lalu at Gandhi Maidan in Patna.

10 March 1990 – Janata Dal sweeps the state Assembly elections. Lalu becomes Bihar CM for the first time with Nitish credited with being Lalu’s Chanakya, who strategised the win.

It was during their student days that Lalu and Nitish Kumar met each other and became comrades-in-arms. They were arrested during the JP movement and spent many months in jail together. 

September 1974 – Lalu Prasad Yadav, as the President of Student Union in Patna University, played a pivotal role in organising students for Jayaprakash Narayan’s Sampoorna Kranti protests.

(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 21 July 2017. It is being republished in light of Nitish Kumar’s resignation from the post of Bihar Chief Minister.)

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