The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD - "National People's Party") is an Indian political party, based in the northern state of Bihar. The party was founded in 1997 by Lalu Prasad Yadav.
The mass base of the party has traditionally been Yadavs and Muslims, two large and relatively politically active segments of Bihar's population. In 2008, RJD received the status of recognized national level party following its performance in north-eastern states. RJD was derecognised as a national party on 30 July 2010.
On 5 July 1997, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Kanti Singh along with seventeen Lok Sabha MPs and eight Rajya Sabha MPs along with supporters gathered at New Delhi formed the new political party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. It was formed as breakaway of Janata Dal. Lalu Prasad was elected as the first president of RJD. It is a centre-left party.
In the March 1998 national elections, RJD won 17 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar but failed to make significant headway in any other state. Later that year, the party formed an alliance with Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party as an anti-Bharatiya Janata Party secular coalition but the coalition failed in garnering any widespread support.
In the October 1999 elections, RJD fought the election in alliance with Indian National Congress but lost 10 Lok Sabha seats including the seat of Lalu Prasad Yadav.
In the 2000 state elections, however, it performed well, winning a majority of the seats in the state assembly in Bihar. Continuing its upswing in electoral fortunes, the party won 21 Lok Sabha seats in the 2004 elections that it fought in alliance with Indian National Congress. It was a part of Indian National Congress led United Progressive Alliance from 2004 to May 2009, wherein Prasad held the position of the Minister of Railways.
In February 2005 Bihar Legislative Assembly election RJD won only 75 seats and lost the power. In the state elections held later that year - as a result of no party being able to form a government and RJD continued its downward slide losing 21 seats.
In Indian general election, 2009, the RJD broke its alliance from UPA when seat sharing talks failed. RJD formed its alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party what the media has dubbed the "Fourth Front". RJD performed poorly and won just four seats, all of them in Bihar. However, in 2010 Assembly election, the RJD did not continue their alliance with Samajwadi Party.
In Indian general election, 2014 RJD came back to UPA and contested election in alliance with Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party in Bihar. Out of 40 seats in Bihar, RJD will contest on 27 seats, INC on 12 and NCP on one. The eldest daughter of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Misa Bharti and his wife Rabri Devi contested from Patliputra and Saran respectively but both lost in election.
RJD won only four out of total forty Loksabha seats in Bihar.
On 14 April 2015, the RJD, Janata Dal (United), Janata Dal (Secular), the Indian National Lok Dal, Samajwadi Party, and Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya) announced that they would merge into a new national Janata Parivar alliance in order to oppose the BJP, thus breaking their long time alliance with the INC. This would give the alliance 14 Lok Sabha seats and 30 Rajya Sabha seats.
On 7 May 2015, the RJD expelled Rajesh Ranjan for six years due to anti-RJD activities after speculation rose that he may join the Biju Janata Dal for the 2015 Bihar Legislative Assembly election but he formed a new party called Jan Adhikar Party.
In November 2015, RJD won the elections as party became the single largest party with 80 followed by Janata Dal (United) with 71 seats, BJP with 53 seats and Congress with 27 seats. In terms of vote share, BJP came first with 24.4%, followed by RJD with 18.4% and JD (U) with 16.8% and Congress got 6.7%. Janata Dal (United)'s Nitish Kumar became the Chief Minister and Lalu's son Tejashwi Yadav became the Deputy Chief Ministers of Bihar.Lalu Prasad YadavFirst term: 4 April 1995 to 25 July 1997Rabri DeviFirst term: 25 July 1997 to 11 February 1999Second term: 9 March 1999 to 2 March 2000Third term: 11 March 2000 to 6 March 2005Tejashwi YadavFirst term: 22 Nov 2015 to Incumbent