With just 10 months to go for the crucial Assembly elections in Bihar, the Janata Parivar, currently working on a merger of six parties, may do it in stages.
“We might first merge the Janata Dal(United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, as there is greater urgency to do that with the Bihar polls almost upon us,” top sources in the Janata Parivar said in an informal conversation.
Ever since last year’s general elections, when the BJP-led alliance swept the State, winning 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, decimating both the RJD and the JD(U), the two parties have been in a state of shock.
A few months later, in August, when the two parties joined hands with the Congress for 10 Assembly by-elections, they won six seats.
Simultaneously, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav is scheduled to hold talks on Thursday with Samajwadi Party chief, Mulayam Singh, and JD(U) leader and the former Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, on a joint action programme to mobilise public opinion against the Centre’s efforts to bypass Parliament and rule through ordinances.
“The government has taken the route of issuing ordinances bypassing the democratic process of Parliament,” Mr. Yadav said on Wednesday, recalling, “We remember that the BJP during the UPA regime used to say that ordinances should be issued only in the case of an emergency or when the matter was of urgent importance.” Indira Gandhi had tried Emergency and “failed.” He added that the BJP still had “time to change its ways.”
Among the other four parties in the Janata Parivar, the Samajwadi Party has five MPs in the Lok Sabha and 15 in the Rajya Sabha, and there is no urgency for a merger like JD(U) and RJD.
With Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh slated for early 2017, the party is clearly still weighing its options on what will suit it better — a merger or just united action? The other three parties, Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal in Haryana, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal(S) and the Samajwadi Janata Party have fewer stakes comparatively in retaining their separate identities.
However, the attempt is still to try and merge all the six before the budget session of Parliament in February-end, Janata Parivar sources said, but its leaders – given their chequered history – want to get it right this time. If it can’t be done in one go, the JD(U) and the RJD will merge first.
Mr. Yadav said once an action plan is formulated, they would contact the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Left Parties: “We will mobilise people inside and outside Parliament, and try and consolidate the opposition unity that we showed during the winter session, especially in the Rajya Sabha.”