Though not a Third Front yet, there are signs that the Janata Parivar — and some of its old friends — shaken out of its lethargy by this year’s general election results, is tentatively working towards creating an anti-BJP platform.
Janata Dal (U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said senior party leaders Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav will campaign for Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal in the Haryana Assembly polls on October 15.
Simultaneously, Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, who is the head of the Shiromani Akali Dal and a NDA member, has come to an electoral arrangement with the INLD and will contest the Kalianwali and Ambala City seats. The BJP’s recent dumping of the Shiv Sena has evidently not gone unnoticed in the NDA.
The success in August of the JD(U)-Rashtriya Janata Dal combine (along with the Congress) in the Bihar by-polls has set the stage for this opposition revival. In the Uttar Pradesh by-polls in September, the Samajwadi Party snatched eight of the 10 seats held by the BJP. If the Bahujan Samaj Party’s absence in the elections played a key role in the SP’s triumph, the JD-U, RJD and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal — with much smaller vote bases — also deliberately stayed out to help the SP.
The memory of two stalwarts of the Janata Dal-Lok Dal tradition, former Prime Minister Charan Singh and ex-Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal — both Jats — is coming in handy for the revival of the opposition. On September 25, JD-U leaders Mr Kumar and Mr Yadav, SP leader Mulayam Singh's brother, Shivpal Yadav, former Prime Minister and JD(S) boss H.D. Deve Gowda and Mr Badal shared a stage in Haryana’s Jind with Mr Chautala to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of Devi Lal.
These leaders have accepted an invitation from RLD chief Ajit Singh to attend a rally in Meerut on October 12 to demand Charan Singh’s residence in Lutyens’ Delhi be turned into a memorial.
RLD sources said Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, too, have been invited to Meerut. Mr. Patnaik’s father, the late Biju Patnaik, and Mr. Abdullah were both veterans of Third Front politics.
If the INLD performs well in Haryana, it could provide the momentum for a re-union of the erstwhile members of the Janata Parivar. It could then make an impact in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Karnataka. If the Biju Janata Dal joins hands, it could become a political formation that runs governments in three States, influencing nearly 180 Lok Sabha seats. In the past, the socialists have formed the core of governments at the Centre in 1977, 1989 and 1996.