Less than a month after the formal announcement of their coming together, the merger of the erstwhile Janata Parivar parties hit a roadblock as SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said it was not possible before the Bihar Assembly polls and any such move now would amount to signing the "death warrant" of his own party.
But while Yadav, the Samajwadi Party national general secretary, said it was due to "technicalities" that the merger would be pushed back, his comment drew a terse response from JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, who said the merger had already happened.
The SP leader insisted that the best course of action would be for the Lalu Prasad-led RJD and Nitish Kumar's JD(U) to fight the Bihar Assembly polls -- slated for later this year -- under a seat-sharing arrangement as they will lose their party symbols if they merge now and that would cause confusions among voters.
"The merger is not possible before the Bihar election due to technicalities. If we merge in a hurry, it will be like signing the death warrant of my own party," the SP leader told reporters.
His comments are a clear signal of the unease within the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party over the merger as many SP leaders believe that the UP-based party stands to gain nothing from an exercise aimed at consolidating the base of two Bihar-based outfits, JD(U) and RJD, before the election later this year. The merger of the Janata Parivar parties was announced last month with a declaration that Mulayam will head the new entity.
Ram Gopal Yadav is said to be vociferous within his party against the merger of the six offshoots of the erstwhile Janata Dal, which ruled at the Centre in the late 80s and the latter half of the 90s.
There is talk that JD(U) President Sharad Yadav will replace him as the leader of the new party in Rajya Sabha.
Ramgopal Yadav's comments drew a terse response from Sharad Yadav, an enthusiastic proponent of the merger, who said that Mulayam was authorised to make announcements about the future course of the new party which, he insisted, was already formed following the merger of the six parties at a meeting on April 15.
"We have already merged. Please ask Mulayam Singh ji as he has been made the head of the new party and (who is) the only person authorised to make a statement," he said.
Besides the strong opposition to the merger from within the SP, which rules Uttar Pradesh, differences between RJD and JD(U) had also cropped up off late over the seat-sharing formula for Bihar polls and both Lalu and Nitish Kumar had camped in Delhi last week for over three days to sort out their issues.
They were involved in hectic one-on-one parleys and had also met Mulayam even as Nitish asserted that everything was in order.
Many SP leaders that their party would not gain anything from the merger as parties like JD(U) and RJD have no base in UP and that the merger may even harm it as it may lose its symbol and identity cultivated among the people in UP over last many years.
The merger announcement was made on April 15 at a joint press conference of all top Janata Parivar leaders including Mulayam, Sharad, Nitish, Lalu and former Prime Minister and JD(S) HD Deve Gowda.
The name, symbol, flag and other details were left to a a six-member committee which included Gowda, Lalu, Om Prakash Chautala of INLD, Sharad Yadav, Ram Gopal Yadav of SP and Kamal Morarka of Samajwadi Janata Party.