Being together will be the real test for Janata Parivar

  • Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 16, 2015 22:40 IST

It is a hopeful moment for the Opposition that six parties that had taken the first steps towards forming a larger Janata family have fulfilled their objective.

It is also remarkable that the process could be completed without rancour or ill feeling, a remarkable change from the time when the Janata Dal was formed in 1988.

Then there was the bitter issue as to whether the new party would be called the Janata Dal or the Janata Party.

Also Devi Lal quarrelled with HN Bahuguna to an extent that the initiative almost came to grief.

Though the new party under Mulayam Singh Yadav has not yet been named, chances are the naming will go through without a hitch because the leaders have shown sagacity in not letting their differences on this, if there are any, be known.

But then comes the more difficult job of sustaining this alliance for at least the remaining term of the 16th Lok Sabha.

It has been by now well-established that some of these parties have caste as their fulcrum and the rivalries between them are essentially caste rivalries.

Their amelioration was seen to be possible only through State intervention, and, therefore, the process got entwined with the principles of socialism.

For example, the Yadavs are dominant in parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the RJD while the Jats hold sway in the INLD.

It is also remarkable that the Rashtriya Lok Dal, another Jat-dominated party, has kept itself out of the alliance.

To some extent the caste angle to Indian politics is understandable when seen in the context of the national movement, in the course of which upper-caste jockeying for positions of power and privilege was too visible to be questioned.

But now, because of the BJP, the parties and the individuals who lead them have rightly realised that they need to hold down their unity if they are not to cede ground to the BJP entirely, and retain their political space.

The first test of this alliance is the upcoming Bihar election.

And the RJD-JD(U) success in the byelections in Bihar last year is surely something the new parivar can pin its hopes on. The stated factor behind the move is preserving secularism.

If this is for real, the new outfit will be compelled to do business with the Congress, the only party that has adhered to this ideal all along.

And this is a challenge because the Lohiaite resurgence in the 1960s started in opposition to the Congress, not the Jan Sangh, with which it could find a lot of affinity.

It is the Congress that was seen as ‘upper-caste and a party of the rich’.

Even if a direct alliance is not possible, the new outfit should find ways of accommodating the Congress in its larger scheme of things.

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