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3-min read

Friendship Day 2018: An Ode to Political Bonds That Didn’t Last Long

Political friendships are more austere and untenable as often they are based on a mutual thirst for individual power that politicians temporarily set aside, often for short term gains.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:August 5, 2018, 8:46 AM IST
Friendship Day 2018: An Ode to Political Bonds That Didn’t Last Long
File photos of Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Donald Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger

It's friendship day, a day popularised in India by 90s Hindi films, Archie’s cards and friendship band manufacturers. But while friendships are meant to last, the same may not apply to the bond in the world of politics.

Political friendships are more austere and untenable as often they are based on a mutual thirst for individual power that politicians temporarily set aside, often for short term gains.

This friendship day, here’s a look at some famous political friendships that did not stand the test of time.

Lalu and Nitish

The on again off friendship between Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar ripened and soured several times before finally hitting its current roadblock. After almost two decades of bitter rivalry, the famous ‘Mahagathbandhan’ between Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) won Nitish Kumar the 2015 election.

United in the face of a common enemy, the shaky friendship could not sustain after the Crime Branch of India (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided RJD chief Lalu’s properties in an alleged land scam case in 2017. Lalu was eventually sentenced by a CBI special court for three and half years in the fodder scam case and arrested in December last year.


The Bharatiya Janata Party and Kashmir’s People’s Democratic Party split in June this year after a three-year-long alliance that won PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti the Chief Minster’s position. In a sudden announcement, the BJP withdrew support from the PDP government in Kashmir, thus causing Mufti to tender her resignation within the next day.

While Mufti had in 2016 met the PM and announced that she was ‘satisfied’ with the Centre’s assurances, the relationship soon soured after the prolonged state of upheaval that followed the killing of militant and Hizbul Mujahedeen commando Burhan Wani in July. According to the BJP, the alliance broke down after failure of the Ramzan cease fire.

Rajni and Kamal

Arts and politics are closely linked in South India and the fact that both Tamil superstars Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan are not just actors but also powerful politicians. Rajnikanth announced his entry in politics at the end of last year when he said that he will float a party that will float a party that would practice ‘spiritual politics’ and contest in all of Tamil Nadu’s 234 seats in the 2021 elections.

Haasan, who recently started his party 'Makkal Needhi Maiam' has acted with Rajnikanth in 11 films, the last one being the 1985 Hindi film ‘Geraftaar’. The two also allegedly shared a good rapport throughout their film career, ensuring they do not release films on colliding dates and maintaining professional bonhomie. However, differences have persisted between the two in various aspects, be it acting style, or political ideology.

Rajni is a believer in God and adheres to more conservative views rather than Haasan who has always claimed a more liberal-rationalist stance. While both have claimed to strive for clean, corruption-free governance, analysts suggest that rivalry between the superstars is likely to grow.


The Nitsh-Lalu equation can be better understood if read in light of the dynamics between Nitish and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. In 2013, the 17-year-old BJP loyalist Nitish Kumar broke his ties with the party after Modi was named as PM candidate.

To fight BJP in Bihar, Nitish forged an alliance with long-time rival RJD and the alliance won a roaring victory in 2015. But as relations between Nitish and Lalu ran into an impasse, Nitish was quick to seek BJP’s friendship again to sustain power in the state. However, despite the seemingly tenable relationship, Nitish and Modi continue to exchange words and many predict chances of the JD(U) yet again ditching the BJP before the 2019 elections.

Trump and Schwarzenegger

US President Donald Trump and actor-turned-politician and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger started out being pals. According to a Politico article, the two were seen hanging out together at a 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Trump and the Terminator star shared an apparently warm relationship, with the latter appearing on ‘The Apprentice’ as a guest while serving as Governor.

Trump also donated money to help bail out Schwarzenegger from his campaign debts and is known to have called him a ‘great friend’. In fact, he replaced Trump as the host of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ after the former ran for Presidency. But things soured soon after the beginning of the election campaign in which Schwarzenegger from the beginning did not support Trump and claimed he would not vote for him in the elections. A war of words ensued that left everyone uncomfortable and the reasons for the split remains unknown.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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