Six Indian socialist parties are likely to formally merge in the national capital on Sunday, hoping to emerge as a national-level force to challenge the BJP’s election juggernaut that flattened opposition in state after state, except Delhi, following last year’s parliamentary poll win.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will lead this group of so-called Janata Parivar constituents following six months of talks, but sources say it is still not certain what name and election symbol the new front will take.
The SP, Janata Dal (Secular), Rasthtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United), Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party (Chandra Shekhar) met at Yadav’s Delhi residence last December and authorised him to work out the modalities to form the new party.
Political observers say the merger was sparked by the parties’ instinct for self-preservation, as assembly elections are due this year in JD(U)-ruled Bihar and in 2017 in Uttar Pradesh where the SP is in power.
In last year’s Lok Sabha polls, the JD(U) and RJD together won a mere six of Bihar’s 40 seats, while the SP picked up just five of UP’s 80 seats, as the BJP made massive gains.
Sources say while the merger is likely to be sealed on Sunday, a formal announcement about the new front, initially comprising six parties, will probably be made next week.
“April 5 has not been finalised for announcement of the merger of the Janata Parivar parties. The date will be decided by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, authorised to see the modalities of the merger,” said Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar.
The Janata Parivar – an umbrella term to the describe various political parties that emerged from the now-defunct Janata Dal – held a demonstration at the Jantar Mantar in December against the Narendra Modi government’s policies.
Another protest is likely this month in the Capital over the land acquisition bill and farmers’ problems.
There was speculation that all the parties would be absorbed into the Samajwadi Party and will accept its “bicycle” symbol.
But before packing his bags for Delhi, Yadav held a final opinion-gathering meeting of his flock in Lucknow on Wednesday and said, “At the national level, we may have to enter the poll arena united under a new party banner and symbol. But in the states, elections would be fought on the symbol of the party which emerges the strongest.”