Unravelling of the Janata Parivar

September 05, 2015 01:11 am | Updated December 03, 2021 12:37 pm IST

Splits in political parties are the inevitable consequences of their growth and evolution. But the merger of parties, when it happens, is invariably artificial, forced by the transient expediency of immediate circumstances. The Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal(United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal, and the Janata Dal(Secular) >came together under the Janata Parivar umbrella only because they suffered decimation at the BJP’s hands in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Other than a common rival, there was little that bound them together. Now, with the >Samajwadi Party pulling out of the ‘grand alliance’ in Bihar with the JD(U) and the RJD, the Janata Parivar faces the prospect of unravelling. Although the SP does not have much clout in Bihar, its inclusion in the alliance in the State was crucial in the context of attempts to project a national-level alternative to the BJP. After the >JD(U) and the RJD in Bihar between them took 200 of the 243 seats for contesting in the upcoming Assembly elections, and gave 40 to the Congress, the expectation was that the SP would be accommodated by the RJD from its quota of seats. But the RJD’s offer did not go far enough: two from its own quota of 100 seats, and three from that of the NCP, which had exited the alliance. Now the formation will remain largely Bihar-specific. The SP does not need the backing of the JD(U) or the RJD or the JD(S) in Uttar Pradesh; the JD(S), similarly, will not benefit in any manner from the support of the other parties in Karnataka, the only State where it has a substantial presence. The two parties that really need each other are the JD(U) and the RJD, and only their alliance is likely to endure, if at all.

What prompted >SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to jeopardise the Janata Parivar by walking out of the alliance in Bihar for the sake of a few seats is unclear. But evidently it was obvious to the SP that the vision of an alternative to both the BJP and the Congress at the national level was no more than a chimera. In Bihar, the RJD and the JD(U) wooed the Congress but took the SP for granted. Both the RJD’s Lalu Prasad and the JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar knew what they were doing: trying to win the election in Bihar and not worrying about a national alternative to the BJP and the Congress. But in so doing they seem to have left the SP miffed. Clearly, parties that cannot even come to an understanding on seat adjustment will not be able to merge into a single entity. The SP’s exit might not point to the success or failure of the grand anti-BJP alliance in Bihar, but it signals that another 1970s-like Janata experiment at the national level is doomed to fail.

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