Bihar stalwarts Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are set to merge their Rashtriya Janta Dal and the Janata Dal (United) — offshoots of the erstwhile Janta Dal — in January.
After merger of the Socialist Janata (Democratic) Party of Kerala with the JD(U) two days ago, this would be another step towards the proposed ‘unification’ of the Janata Parivar.
Nitish, according to sources, feels this merger would not only give him an advantage over BJP in the next year’s assembly elections, but also hopes that a good show in Bihar will convince Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to think about merger of his party as well. While Yadav has backed the idea of the Janata Parivar coming together, he has shown some reservation about merging his party.
A source privy to the development told HT that Nitish — who stepped down as Bihar CM after party’s poor show in the Lok Sabha polls — wanted the RJD-JD(U) merger to happen by now, but Lalu was averse to making a new beginning in the inauspicious month of kharmas. Assembly polls are due in Bihar in September-October next year and, sources say, Nitish wants enough time in hand to iron out the organisational issues that the merger would raise.
The two sides have discussed the broad contours of the mergers and will be giving it a final shape in the next few weeks.
So far, there is an agreement between the two former chief ministers that JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav will head the new political entity with Nitish playing the role of mentor and the main strategist.
Convicted in a fodder scam case and hence barred from contesting elections, Lalu would be involved in mobilising support for the new party.
Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti and RJD’s leader in state assembly Abdul Bari Siddiqui would be prominent faces of the new party.