Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: Janata Dal (United) will take action against rebels who participate in the January 21 Samata Party convention here. The meeting has the backing of the former JD (U) president and MP, George Fernandes, and is meant to revive the Samata Party.

Already party president Sharad Yadav has replaced rebel Gujarat president Pravin Singh Jadeja by the tribal MLA from Bharuch, Chottubhai Vasawa. Other office-bearers who attend the convention would attract similar action, sources said. They might include Uttarakhand State president Anurag, and general secretaries Aneel Hegde and Shiv Kumar, who attended a preliminary meeting.

Huge posters showing Mr. Fernandes holding a flame (Samata symbol) under the slogan Utho, lado ab chuppi todo; phir Samata se nata jodo (Rise, fight, break your silence, and return to Samata Party) have been printed. The posters also carry the names of Fernandes' "loyalists" including the State presidents of Uttarakhand, Manipur, Nagaland and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Highly placed sources in the JD (U), however, said the State presidents of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Nagaland, Manipur had written to Mr. Yadav stating they were with the party and had not given consent for printing their names on the Samata poster.

Former Minister opposes move

Significantly, the former Minister and member of the national executive Digvijay Singh has declined to participate in the convention. He and Mr. Hegde, both close to Mr. Fernandes, have opposed the move.

Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Shiv Kumar, prime mover of the Samata revival plan, said the convention would discuss the course of action to restore the party.He charged the JD (U) leadership with veering towards the Congress after the JD (U) formed a Government in Bihar. "Why did the Planning Commission give additional funds to [Bihar Chief Minister] Nitish Kumar? It was to fix George Fernandes, who is sharply critical of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the party." Mr. Fernandes lost the presidential election to Mr. Yadav.

`Getting closer to Congress'

Alleging that the JD (U) leadership was coming closer to the Congress, Mr. Shiv Kumar said whoever criticised that party was assailed by the JD (U). A case in point was the JD (U) criticism of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. Another sore point is the JD (U) tie-up with Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh without consultations.

Mr. Shiv Kumar was particularly critical of Mr. Nitish Kumar's "autocratic" functioning. He said now JD (U) leaders were pressurising the BJP to remove Mr. Fernandes as convener of the National Democratic Alliance. "Can the BJP do that? It was George Fernandes who befriended them when they were avoided by all parties."

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