The combine of Lalu, Paswan and Mulayam, which had boasted that the Congress could not come to power without its support, found itself in shambles on Saturday night, unable to retain even half of the 64 seats won by them in 2004.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lok Janshakti Party and Samajwadi Party, which had fought independently despite being in the United Progressive Alliance, were in for worst drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections as per results and trends from all the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, where counting is in progress.
The SP, RJD and LJP--which had together won 64 seats last time--were ahead in just 31 seats. Out of the three constituents of the fledgling grouping, SP had got 36, RJD 24 and LJP had won four seats in 2004. Having made the "big mistake" of not contesting jointly with Congress, these parties faced reverses in their strongholds of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In Bihar, the biggest defeat of this election was that of LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who once held the Guinness record for winning with the highest margin of 4,24,000 votes in 1977 from Hajipur. LJP had contested eight seats last timeand won four. Paswan had represented the seat eight times--1977, 1980, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who hedged his bets by contesting from Saran and Pataliputra Lok Sabha seats, lost from Pataliputra, but won from Saran. RJD had won 22 of the 40 seats in Bihar, last time, when it had contested 26 seats. This time it contested 28 seats in alliance with LJP and SP, without any tie up with Congress, a decision described by Prasad as a "big mistake".
The Samajwadi Party, which extended outside support to the UPA after the Left parted ways, was poised to win in 25 places in Uttar Pradesh. The party, which contested 76 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state this time, had bagged 35 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2004 when it had contested 70 seats.
The 'Fourth Front' got the worst mauling in Bihar where the National Democratic Alliance virtually swept the polls. "It is a positive vote for development and harmony," said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, adding that people had rejected the "negative politics" played by Lalu Prasad andPaswan. A meeting of the 'Fourth Front' leaders is scheduled in New Delhi on Sunday to discuss its strategy.