The Janata Parivar is moving closer to a merger of six of its constituents, senior Janata Dal (United) sources told The Hindu , adding that the final shape is likely to emerge by January-end.
Propelled by the prospect of the Bihar Assembly polls later this year, the JD(U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal are the new party’s principal proponents, but the Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh, slated to head the new outfit, is playing his role, too.
Last Saturday, leaders of three key Janata Parivar constituents — Mr. Mulayam Singh, the JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav and the RJD’s Lalu Prasad met here for a detailed discussion. The consensus there, sources said, was that the merger should not be delayed, as the countdown for the Bihar elections had begun.
The SP supremo, who has been empowered to oversee the merger, was requested to speak to Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala and JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda soon to put the unity move on a fast track. (The sixth party is Kamal Morarka’s Samajwadi Janata Party that currently has no MPs.)
On Sunday, Mr. Mulayam Singh called on Mr. Chautala, currently at the capital’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital: the two men discussed “the name of the party, its symbol and the leadership” to mutual satisfaction. The SP leader is now likely to speak to Mr. Gowda on Wednesday. Senior JD(U) functionary KC Tyagi was in Bengaluru recently where he had lengthy talks with Mr. Gowda.
Janata Parivar sources also stressed that the merger will take precedence over resolving the political crisis in Bihar, created by Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s challenge to Mr. Nitish Kumar and a slew of statements that have embarrassed the JD(U) leadership in recent days.
Indeed, after Mr. Kumar made him Chief Minister in May 2014, the relatively unknown Mr. Manjhi began to come into his own, using his mahadalit origins to great effect. Not surprisingly, the BJP-led NDA is exploiting these differences as it waits in the wings in Bihar to capture Pataliputra: this has meant that Mr. Kumar and his colleagues have to tread softly.
Top JD(U) sources said Mr. Sharad Yadav has been in touch with Mr. Manjhi and explained to him that unless he “mends his ways,” he will have to step down. For the JD(U) and the RJD to remain relevant, their performance in the Bihar elections is crucial.