On Friday, Jitan Manjhi resigned hours ahead of the trust vote in Bihar assembly, leaving the Bharatiya Janata Party's declaration of support for him infructuous. BJP may console itself with the thought that its decision to come out from the closet and officially line up behind Jitan Ram Manjhi would be seen as synonymous with its support to Mahadalits, the conglomeration of the poorest Dalit castes. But not only has its strategy backfired, it might even have resulted in the smoothening of the pitch for its opponents.

For one, the political crisis in Bihar has straightaway helped Janata Dal-United and Rashtriya Janata Dal to arrive at a clear consensus over who would be the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate in the forthcoming Assembly elections due in November this year. Until recently, the two parties of Janata Parivar, despite resolving to enter into alliance immediately after the Lok Sabha election results last year, were not being able to decide as to who would be the face of the mahajot, as the alliance is called.

On Friday, once Manjhi submitted his resignation to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and the political crisis came to an abrupt end, Nitish Kumar apologized once again for quitting the state’s top post in May last year. While he had claimed at that time that he was stepping down because of the party's poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls, party insiders said the decision had been prompted by the reluctance of RJD leader Lalu Prasad to project the JD-U leader as the face of the new alliance.

Those aware of the political developments that followed the Lok Sabha polls point out that it was primarily because of this deadlock that Manjhi was made to succeed Nitish Kumar as the chief minister of the state. The deadlock in Bihar continued even while some of the major constituents of the erstwhile Janata Parivar – including JD-U, RJD and Samajwadi Party – started working on a merger plan.

For Lalu and his RJD, the interim arrangement in Bihar seemed to work rather well until about a month ago when it became clear that Manjhi was playing into the hands of the BJP. Manjhi's flirtation with the BJP came as a shock for both the RJD and the JD-U leaders. The RJD insiders say about two weeks before the crisis erupted on February 7, Lalu Prasad agreed to give up his resistance and let Nitish Kumar replace Manjhi as state Chief Minister and thus be the face of the alliance in the upcoming Assembly polls.

By resolving the leadership issue, the political crisis, fuelled as it was by the BJP, has only strengthened the alliance and the position of Nitish Kumar in it.

As for the BJP, it is hard to see what it has gained from its dalliance with Manjhi. The BJP leaders are hopeful that Manjhi will help dent the Mahadalit vote base that Nitish Kumar has nurtured ever since he became the chief minister in 2005. But this view overlooks the fact that the JD-U leader's reign is remembered fondly by most people belonging to Mahadalit castes. This may considerably limit Manjhi’s ability to damage the party’s core vote base.

Even if it is assumed that the Manjhi factor would work among a section of the Musahar caste, since he himself belongs to this social segment, the possibility of any influence over other Mahadalit castes is extremely negligible. Manjhi's ability to draw the Mahadalit votes stood diminished the day he left the party which is credited to have brought Mahadalits in the centre of the state politics.