The Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) has proved to be a game-changer for the BJP-led NDA in Bihar. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was written off ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, has returned to the center stage of national politics, with his party bagging 12 seats out of the 16 it contested in Bihar. With the BJP falling short of the simple majority mark of 272, it will have to lean heavily on its NDA partners, especially key allies like the JD(U) and the TDP, to steer its government at the Centre. Here is a look at the profiles of 12 new JD(U) MPs, who are expected to play a significant role in the ruling camp now:

The 69-year-old four-time MP, Rajeev Ranjan Singh, popularly known as Lalan Singh, has won from the Munger constituency. He had also represented the Begusarai seat once, between 2004 and 2009. The former JD(U) national president and Bihar minister, Singh had been among Nitish’s closest aides for many years. Groomed as a leader under socialist icon and ex-CM Karpoori Thakur, Singh had recently seemed to have fallen out with Nitish because of his alleged proximity to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.

He had also courted controversy for his tiff with former JD(U) leader RCP Singh, who had become a minister in the previous Narendra Modi Cabinet. An upper caste Bhumihar leader, Singh is known for his political acumen. He is said to be a front-runner among the newly-elected JD(U) MPs for a berth in the new Modi-led NDA Cabinet.

Ajay Kumar Mandal

Ajay Kumar Mandal, 53, has won from the Bhagalpur seat for the second consecutive term. He is an EBC (Extremely Backward Class) Gangota leader, whose support base is spread along the Ganga riverine belt. Earlier, he had also represented the Nathnagar and Kahalgaon seats.

Ajay Kumar Mandal won from the Bhagalpur constituency Ajay Kumar Mandal won from the Bhagalpur constituency

For the last three Lok Sabha elections, Gangotas have played a decisive role in the elections in this region. In the 2014 polls, the BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain had lost to the RJD’s Shailesh Kumar or Bulo Mandal from the Gangota community.

Festive offer

Ajay Mandal, who was perceived to have faced “anti-incumbency”, banked on the Modi factor to sail through. After his victory, he has now promised the establishment of an airport at Bhagalpur.

Giridhari Yadav

One of the two Yadav MPs of the JD(U), Giridhari Yadav, 61, has won from the Banka seat for the third time. He had earlier represented the Katoria Assembly seat twice and the Belhar Assembly constituency once.

Giridhari Yadav won from the Banka seat Giridhari Yadav won from the Banka seat

Yadav had been in the news some time ago for his refusal to file his questions online for the proceedings in the outgoing Lok Sabha, saying he was not conversant with computers and would have to give his password to his aide for posting his questions. He then requested for an option to send questions manually. Yadav, who also faced anti-incumbency, played up the Modi card to get better of his RJD rival Jayaprakash Narayan Yadav.

Sunil Kumar

The 39-year-old OBC Kushwaha leader Sunil Kumar, the son of former MP Baidyanath Prasad Mahto, had first become MP after winning the 2020 Lok Sabha bypolls from Valmiki Nagar, which was necessitated after his father’s death. In the current polls, he successfully retained the seat against the RJD’s Deepak Yadav.

Sunil Kumar became active in politics in his early teens, when his father formed an association to take on dacoits in the West Champaran region. His political stock has risen further as the JD(U)’s another Kushwaha leader, Santosh Kumar, tasted defeat in his Purnia seat.

Sunil Kumar won from the Valmiki Nagar seat Sunil Kumar won from the Valmiki Nagar seat

The JD(U) may give Sunil an important responsibility this time, as the party is aware that the Kushwaha (Koeri) votes from its core Luv-Kush (Kurmi-Koeri) vote bank has been breaking up lately. He is believed to be an aspirant for an MoS berth.

Devesh Chandra Thakur

The 70-year-old upper caste Brahmin leader, Devesh Chandra Thakur has won his first Lok Sabha elections from Sitamarhi this time. He has currently been the chairperson of the Bihar Legislative Council.

Devesh Chandra Thakur won from the Sitamarhi constituency Devesh Chandra Thakur won from the Sitamarhi constituency

The four-time MLC, Thakur has also served as a minister in the Bihar government. Known for his managerial and administrative skills, he is among the pioneers of the Bihar Diwas, starting the event during Nitish’s second term as the CM (2010-2015). Thakur was the only Lok Sabha candidate who was alerted about his candidature six months in advance, after the JD(U) denied the ticket to sitting MP Sunil Kumar Pintu.

Lovely Anand

Lovely Anand, 57, had been a former Vaishali MP besides being a two-time MLA. This time, she won from the Sheohar constituency by defeating the RJD’s Ritu Jaiswal.

Lovely, wife of former MP Anand Mohan, had first hit the headlines in 1994 when she defeated Congress heavyweight Kishori Sinha. Her political career suffered after her husband was jailed and later convicted in the G Krishnaiah mob lynching case.

She had failed to win the Sheohar Assembly polls in 2015 as a candidate of the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular). Her son Chetan Anand, however, won as an RJD nominee from the Sheohar Assembly seat in 2020, but then crossed over to the JD(U) this February.

Belonging to the upper caste, Lovely got the JD(U) ticket from Sheohar only after the BJP denied its ticket to sitting MP Rama Devi. By getting the Anand Mohan family back into its fold, the JD(U) saw the consolidation of a section of upper caste votes in its favor this time.

Vijaylakshmi Devi

The 61-year-old OBC Kushwaha leader, Vijaylakshmi Devi, was a surprise JD(U) candidate from the Siwan Lok Sabha constituency. The JD(U) nominated Vijaylakshmi – wife of MLA Ramesh Kushwaha, once an active member of the CPI(ML) Liberation, who was till recently in Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Morcha — instead of repeating its sitting upper caste Rajput MP Kavita Singh from the seat.

Vijaylakshmi Devi won from the Siwan Lok Sabha seat Vijaylakshmi Devi won from the Siwan Lok Sabha seat

Though Vijaylakshmi faced a tough fight from Independent candidate Hina Sahab, the wife of former Siwan MP Mohammed Shahabuddin, she managed to win in a triangular contest in which the RJD’s Awadh Bihar Choudhary finished third.

Alok Kumar Suman

Alok Kumar Suman, the 67-year-old Dalit leader and second-time MP, is an MBBS doctor who practiced at a government hospital until he contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and won. He has now won for the second consecutive time from the Gopalganj seat – the home turf of Lalu Prasad – on the JD(U) ticket.

Suman had risen from a very humble background, having also worked as a child labourer. The Gopalganj constituency became a reserved seat after the previous delimitation. By retaining his seat, Suman has reinforced Nitish’s Mahadalit constituency.

Kaushlendra Kumar

Coming from the OBC Kurmi community, Kaushlendra Kumar, 65, a small-time JD(U) worker, had sprung a surprise by getting the party’s ticket from the prestigious Nalanda seat for the first time in 2009. Having now won the seat for the For the fourth time, the low-profile MP has ensured that Nalanda – Nitish Kumar’s home constituency with a large OBC Kurmi population – continues to be among the JD(U)’s “safest seats”.

Kaushlendra Kumar won from the Nalanda Lok Sabha constituency Kaushlendra Kumar won from the Nalanda Lok Sabha constituency

The son of a farmer, Kaushlendra has always taken up issues related to agriculture. This time, he beat Sandeep Saurabh of the CPI(ML)L, although the sharp fall in his victory margin has alarmed the JD(U).

Dinesh Chandra Yadav

Elected as the Lok Sabha MP for the fifth time – and now for the second time from Madhepura – Dinesh Chandra Yadav, 72, is a veteran socialist, who has dominated politics of the Kosi region for the last 25 years. He has also represented the Khagaria seat and Saharsa constituency in the past.

Dinesh Chandra Yadav won from Madhepura Dinesh Chandra Yadav won from Madhepura

One of the prominent Yadav leaders in the JD(U), Dinesh Chandra, who emerged from the JP movement, is known to have kept his focus on national politics.

Dileshwar Kamat

The 78-year-old prominent EBC leader from the Kosi region, Dileshwar Kamat, is now a second-time MP from Supaul, which has a dominant EBC population. Kamat, who was an officer with the Indian Railways, had joined politics after his retirement from the government job in 2008.

He represented the Triveniganj Assembly segment for the JD(U) in 2010. He had also contested, unsuccessfully, from the Supaul Lok Sabha seat in 2014.

Dileshwar Kamat won from Supaul constituency Dileshwar Kamat won from Supaul constituency

As Bihar has a sizable EBC Kamat population, Dileshwar has remained an important JD(U) figure. From the group of EBC MPs, either he or Rampreet Mandal or Ramnath Thakur (Rajya Sabha MP) may get a ministerial berth in the NDA government 3.0.

Rampreet Mandal

Belonging to the EBC Dhanuk community, Rampreet Mandal, 68, is a key EBC leader of the JD(U). Mandal, who first became an MP in 2019 from Jhanjharpur — which has a sizable EBC population — has retained the seat in this election. He is also in contention for a central ministerial portfolio.

Rampreet Mandal won from Jhanjharpur Rampreet Mandal won from Jhanjharpur

He made news some years ago by demanding a Sita temple in Sitamarhi on the lines of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.