The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh, which is fighting a bitter family feud, floated on Wednesday the idea of a “mahagathbandhan” or grand alliance of political parties to collectively take on the BJP in next year’s assembly polls.
The proposal has the approval of party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had walked out of a similar alliance between the Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress in Bihar ahead of elections there in 2015.
The SP state unit chief, Shivpal Yadav, made the announcement before leaving for New Delhi to invite leaders of JD(U), RJD and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) for the party’s silver jubilee function on November 5 in Lucknow.
Besides the invitation for the event, he is supposed to invite the leaders for a Bihar-type “mahagathbandhan” that defeated the BJP.
“Netaji (Mulayam) has authorised me to hold discussions with all Lohiawadi, Charan Singhwadi and Gandhiwadi leaders and bring secular parties on a platform to prevent communal forces from coming to power in UP,” Shivpal said.
The development came on a day chief minister Akhilesh Yadav made a sudden visit to the Raj Bhavan after another of his loyalists — minister of state for forests Pawan Pandey — was sacked from the party.
Raj Bhavan officials termed the visit a courtesy call, which lasted more than 30 minutes, in which the two exchanged Diwali greetings. The chief minister discussed the current political situation with the governor, sources said.
The party expelled Pandey for slapping Ashu Malik, a member of the legislative council and a close aide of party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Shivpal, who is locked in a power tussle with nephew Akhilesh, announced the disciplinary action against Pandey, known to be a staunch supporter of the chief minister.
Any rapprochement between Shivpal and Akhilesh looks unlikely at the moment. The uncle is likely to vacate his official home in Lucknow.
Shivpal said the grand alliance would have taken shape much earlier.
“We would not have won the seventh MLC seat in the bypolls had RLD not voted for our candidate. But now you all know, who thwarted it,” he said, hinting at expelled party general secretary Ramgopal Yadav — a Mulayam cousin and Akhilesh loyalist.
If Mulayam’s alliance idea gains traction, the SP silver jubilee function would be the first show of strength of the proposed “mahagathbandhan”.
UP Congress president Raj Babbar denied getting any invite. But SP sources said invitations have gone out to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav of the JD(U), former prime minister HD Deve Gowda of Janata Dal (Secular), RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who is related to Mulayam, and former Union minister Ajit Singh and his son, Jayant Chaudhary, of the RLD.
Shivpal has been credited with engineering a similar alliance in 2014, comprising the SP, RJD, JD(U), JD(S), Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Samajwadi Janata Party (Chandra Shekhar). The parties came together after the BJP swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The constituent parties held meetings and joint demonstrations against the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi, but the alliance collapsed ahead of the Bihar polls.
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