BJD non-committal on revamped Janata Dal

“It’s too early to say anything. We are politically equidistant”

November 16, 2014 12:33 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:28 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Ahead of the Janata Dal’s rebirth on December 2-3, Janata Parivar MPs (25 in the Rajya Sabha and 15 in the Lok Sabha) will gather on November 25 to choose a common floor leader in each House and draw up an agenda for the winter session of Parliament.

Only the Samajwadi Janata Party, headed by Kamal Morarka, does not have a parliamentary presence but it will be part of the deliberations.

This formation will confront the Modi government in Parliament on its efforts to dilute the previous UPA government’s flagship MGNREGA and the historic Land Acquisition Act, for which it hopes to get support of the Congress and Left parties. It will also oppose the Insurance Bill.

But the most successful member of the erstwhile Janata Dal, the Biju Janata Dal, is not yet a part of these discussions. If the six parties have 40 MPs in the two Houses, the BJD alone has 27, with 20 in the LS. It is also a party with a remarkable electoral trajectory: in 1998, the BJD won nine LS seats, in 1999 10, in 2004 11, in 2009 14, and earlier this year 20.

The BJD’s Bhratruhari Mahtab was circumspect when asked about the likelihood of his party joining forces with the rest of the Janata Parivar. “It’s too early to say anything. We are politically equidistant from the Congress and the BJP, so we would like to wait and see what the Janata Parivar’s equation with the Congress will be,” he said, adding: “The JD-U and the RJD are allies of the Congress in Bihar.”

JD-U sources, meanwhile, said talks with the BJD would begin only after Janata Dal 2.0 is a reality.

The JD-U, the RJD and the SP are the most eager to form one party. Starting 1998, the RJD and the Samata Party/JD-U, though they competed with each other electorally, together sent between 24 and 32 MPs to the LS. This year, the two together slumped to six.

Similarly, in the SP’s case, starting in 1996, its LS figures fluctuated between 17 and 36. This year, it plummeted to five. The slump has driven these three parties to a move for a merger.

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