Six socialist parties merged on Wednesday to stave off a crushing defeat in the upcoming elections in Bihar this year, hoping to take on the BJP that has romped home in a string of state polls, except the Capital, after an emphatic Lok Sabha victory.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will lead the so-called Janata Parivar combine but issues such as the name, flag and election symbol of the party will be finalised by a six-member committee, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav said.
“The Modi government has failed to meet the aspirations of the people. Not one election promise has been fulfilled. We have come together to defeat the communal designs of the BJP government and provide a national, secular alternative to the country,” Mulayam said after a 90-minute meeting.Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda and SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav were among those named as members of the panel determining the structure of the alliance that also comprises the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Samajwadi Janata Party (Chandra Shekhar).
Differences seemed to have cropped up over inheriting the SP’s symbol of the bicycle and the two possible names — Samajwadi Janata Party or the Samajwadi Janata Dal, sources said.
Some leaders have reportedly suggested that the SP’s red and green flag should get a white strip before being adopted by the new outfit.
The future of the combine rests on the politically-significant state of Bihar, where a JD(U)-RJD combine is strongly placed to take on the BJP, having polled more votes than the saffron party in the Lok Sabha elections last year.
“Whenever we (Janata factions) have come together in the past, we have come to power at the Centre,” Mulayam Singh Yadav said.
But confusion over the new party’s leadership in Bihar persisted, with Lalu saying “everyone was a leader in the state”.
“The new party will take the wind out of the sails of the Narendra Modi government. The bugle of the ouster of the Modi government has been sounded,” the RJD chief added.
Political analysts, however, are sceptical about the future of the combine because earlier efforts to form a government have always been short-lived, starting with 1977, when the Janata Party took on the Congress, which had been ruling since Independence, but was in power for barely two years.
The project was given shape last December at a meeting at Mulayam’s residence with parties still reeling from a Lok Sabha drubbing as the JD(U) and RJD together won a mere six of Bihar’s 40 seats, while the SP picked up a paltry five of UP’s 80 seats.
Merger moves gathered steam after a JD(U)-RJD combine was able to turn the electoral tables on the BJP in by-elections last years, winning six of the 10 seats on offer.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar also expressed confidence the new entity would be a strong party and provide direction to national politics. He said the merger decision was an outcome of a common idea.