NATIONAL

Janata Dal(U) may tie up with Akali Dal, INLD in Rajasthan

NEW DELHI NOV. 1. The Janata Dal (United) is considering a tie up with Om Prakash Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal and Prakash Singh Badal's Akali Dal in Rajasthan for the coming Assembly election. The three parties are likely to field candidates for at least 30 seats, particularly in the Jat-dominated belt of Bharatpur, Sriganganagar and Churu and in the Banswara, Dungarpur and Sawai Madhopur districts.

Divya Singh, sister of the scion of the erstwhile Bharatpur state, Vishwavendra Singh, had joined the INLD recently and was appointed vice-president of the party.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Board, Sharad Yadav, finalised the candidature of Rajat Rajak for the Fatwa byelection in Barh district of Bihar and of Saryu Paswan from the Barachatti Assembly segment in Gaya district. Both are reserved seats. After the merger of the Samata Party and the JD(U), this byelection will test the waters of the new entity in Bihar. Sources said the BJP had offered seat adjustment to the JD(U) on Badarpur and Hatsaal seats in Delhi, but the latter is not inclined to accept this. The Badarpur seat is held by Netaji Ram Singh (Independent), now supported by the Congress, and Hatsaal was won last time by Mukesh Sharma (Congress).

On its own, the JD(U) will field candidates in 30 to 50 seats in Madhya Pradesh, mainly in the erstwhile Mahakaushal region comprising Katni, Jabalpur and Hoshangabad. It is expected to contest about 20 seats in Mizoram and about five in Chhattisgarh.While a formal meeting of the newly-formed steering committee, comprising George Fernandes, Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar, is yet to take place, the members assessed the possibilities here today.

Besides the Assembly elections, the Samata-merged JD(U) will also test the waters in the byelection to the Fatna parliamentary seat in Bar district and Barachakki in Gaya district of Bihar. Though there has been some resentment in the rank and file of the Samata and the JD(U) over their merger, sources said the national councils of both the parties would be convened after the Assembly elections, first separately and then together, to ratify the merger.

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