Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh with RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, JDS chief HD Deve Gowda and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav share the dais at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi
Six parties of the erstwhile Janata parivar on Wednesday decided to merge and form a new party to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of crucial elections in Bihar scheduled later this year.
The decision was announced in Delhi by Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav after a meeting of six parties that included Janata Dal-Secular, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party.
Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was elected chairman of the new party that is likely to be named either the Samajwadi Janata Dal or the Samajwadi Janata Party.
A six-member committee including H D Deve Gowda, Lalu Yadav, Sharad Yadav and Ramgopal Yadav to decide on issues
like name and flag of the party.
Mulayam Singh told the media that the prinicipal aim is to take on the BJP which has “promised much before the Lok Sabha elections but delivered very little.”
The group is likely to inherit the SP flag and its electoral symbol of the “bicycle”, even though some constituents favour retrieving the original Janata symbol – the wheel. Some leaders also want the SP’s red and green flag to have a stripe of white – to symbolise the new party’s pluralistic and socialist philosophy.
The future of the combine rests on the politically-significant state of Bihar, where a JD(U)-RJD combine is strongly placed to take on the BJP in the state, having polled more votes than the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections last year, but concerns over rebels and dissatisfied leaders remain.
The project was given shape at a meeting of the SP, Janata Dal (Secular), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United), Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party (Chandra Shekhar) at Yadav’s residence last December.
The parties were still reeling from the drubbing in the Lok Sabha where the JD(U) and RJD together won a mere six of Bihar’s 40 seats, while the SP picked up a paltry five of UP’s 80 seats, as the BJP made massive gains.
But the project gathered steam after a JD(U)-RJD combine was able to turn the electoral tables on the BJP in by-elections last years, winning six of the 10 seats on offer, as experts pointed out the combine could pull together votes from the backward castes.
The Janata Parivar – an umbrella term to the describe various political parties that emerged from the now-defunct Janata Dal – has appeared together in several demonstrations against a controversial land bill in the past few months though doubts remain whether RJD’s Lalu Prasad and JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar would be able to sink their long-standing differences.
Political analysts are sceptical about the future about the third front because earlier efforts to form a government have always been short-lived, starting with 1977 when the Janata Party took on the Congress, which had been ruling since independence, but was in power for barely two years.
BJP mocks Janata merger
The BJP in Bihar mocked the proposed amalgamation, saying it would have “no impact” on the upcoming state elections.
“Merger experiments have flopped in the past and will meet the same fate this time too…It’s beyond comprehension as to how 3-4 swords would remain in one scabbard,” senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi told reporters.
“All these parties are in truth one man show. RJD is a party of Lalu Prasad while Mulayam Singh Yadav is the sole leader of Samajwadi Party and Nitish Kumar is the dominant figure in JD(U). (As) these supremos do not tolerate anybody else in their parties how come they remain in peace with each other in one fold,” Modi said.
Recalling that such experiments had flopped earlier as well, Modi said, “Four parties had come together in 1977 but they withered away in less than one year. Again, in 1989, the coming together of parties did not last long.”