The once-firebrand young Turks of the socialist movement, who fell apart more than two decades ago, are set to re-unite as a family of ageing warriors. The process will begin with a huddle in Delhi on Thursday, and if all goes well, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Lalu Prasad’s RJD, HD Deve Gowda’s JD(S), and Om Prakash Chautala’s INLD will merge as a new party under the leadership of former wrestler and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.
More than love for one another, it is the fear of rapidly diminishing political relevance and rise of BJP under PM Narendra Modi that is driving the process.
The new entity could be named the Samajwadi Janata Dal.Given the SP’s better credentials — being in power in Uttar Pradesh and also having the most MPs in Parliament among the lot — it is likely that Mulayam will be asked to lead the new party in the making. "However, a mechanism for collective leadership will also be worked out," sources said.
“The JD (U) is hopeful and keen on a merger of our parties. It is time for us to come together and jointly confront the challenges facing the country,” former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar told HT.
“The Janata parivar merger should be seen as the first step in the direction of consolidating secular forces . Other like-minded parties could join at a later stage. Even the Congress and the Left parties are likely to support this secular formation,” said JD (U) spokesperson KC Tyagi.
After the luncheon meeting at the SP leader’s residence, leaders of the fledging group are likely to announce joint campaign programme to highlight “failures of the NDA government” on issues including black money, unemployment and farmers’ problems.
Senior BJP leader and environment minister Prakash Javadekar said that in a democracy, all political groupings had a right to come together or split. “But the Janata parivar DNA dictates that they come together and split again,” he said.
Senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed remarked, “Old socialists are known for their typical characteristics. They cannot live without each other for a long time. But they also cannot live together for more than one year.”