Suspense over Samajwadi Party's participation in the nascent anti-BJP grand alliance for the coming Bihar assembly polls ended on Monday with the party deciding to fight the elections on its own. The party also blamed chief minister Nitish Kumar for a "tilt" towards Congress.
Announcing this in Patna, Bihar SP president Ramchandra Singh Yadav said the party will contest all 243 seats alone in the upcoming polls.
"SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, listening to sentiments of workers, went by the decision of the party's parliamentary board to end ties with secular alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress, and contest alone in Bihar," Yadav told reporters after a meeting of party districts chief.
He said that with SP walking out, the grand secular alliance in Bihar has virtually come to an end. "Now it will only be 'lathbandhan' (clash of lathis) between JD(U) and RJD," Yadav said.
Yadav was not very categorical about chances of tie-up with Left parties and Sharad Pawar-led NCP. "There have been some talks with leaders of the two but no conclusive decision has yet been taken," he said.
Slamming the grand alliance and coming down heavily on the Bihar chief minister, he said, "SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav ignored all odds against Kumar and played a pivotal role in declaring his name as secular alliance's candidate for chief minister's post ... Till the name was declared, Kumar used to chant 'Mulayam chalisa'. The feelings of the SP workers were hurt after he started with 'Congress and Sonia chalisa'," Yadav said. SP's change of mind follows its participation in the 'Swabhiman Rally' here on August 30, which was addressed among others by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The state SP chief did not speak much against RJD and its leader Lalu Prasad, whom he said made efforts to salvage the anti-BJP grouping. However, he spoke about 'kushashan' (misgovernance) in the name of 'sushashan' (good governance) under Nitish Kumar and chances of return of jungle raj in the state under the 'grouping'.
SP which was originally not given any seat to contest on August 11, was given five later - the three rejected by NCP and two from RJD's quota. After this Mulayam Singh Yadav had sent his younger brother and Uttar Pradesh minister Shivpal Singh Yadav to the Swabhiman rally.
On September 3, SP stormed out of the alliance, saying it felt "humiliated" at being allotted a paltry five seats. The decision to walk out of the coalition was taken at a meeting of SP parliamentary board in the presence of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had brokered peace between Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and succeeded in persuading the latter to accept the Bihar chief minister as the secular alliance's chief ministerial candidate.
Ramgopal Yadav's announcement was followed by hectic efforts by Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad to placate Mulayam Singh Yadav. Both had exuded optimism that Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had been declared head of Janata Parivar, will remain with the alliance though there was no word from him or his party.
SP's decision to walk away from the grand alliance would not have much impact on the electoral prospects of JD(U), RJD and Congress grouping, keeping in view its past performance in Bihar.
But, it could play spoilsport to the anti-BJP front, particularly RJD, by eating into its Muslim-Yadav votes. SP had contested 146 seats alone in Bihar in 2010 elections, but drew a blank. Poll records reveal that its candidates lost security deposits on majority of the seats in the last poll in the state. Its performance in the 2005 February assembly polls was better as it had won four out of 142 seats it fought, and subsequently in October 2005 the same year, which saw Nitish Kumar becoming chief minister following NDA victory, it secured just on two seats.