NEW DELHI: If Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh’s moves to align or merge his party with Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party have stirred the hornet’s nest within Uttar Pradesh’s ruling family, the reasons are understandable.
While Mulayam’s cousin Ram Gopal Yadav has said that an alliance with a “leader who had lost political credibility” would not be a wise thing, the party chief ’s brother, Shivpal Yadav, hinted that talks with Singh were part of efforts to bring followers of Ram Manohar Lohia, Mahatma Gandhi and Chaudhary Charan Singh on the same platform to fight the BJP.
Having done business across ideological platforms in past years, Singh has come to be regarded as a slippery customer of sorts. Until recently, he had been confabulating with JD(U) president and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar for a possible merger of their parties. Subsequently, he opened up channels of communication with the BJP. The RLD leader’s recent political hop-skip and jump has bordered on the incredible.
In recent days, Singh has met Mulayam twice, while the latter’s brother Shivpal called on the RLD leader at his residence on Sunday. The developments have even given rise to theories that a “Bihar-type” of a “grand secular alliance” was in the making in the adjoining state.
The political complexities to the UP situation, however, are far too many. The “Jat” community – whom Singh represents —has been at loggerheads with the Muslims (core vote bank of the SP) for the past several years and particularly after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.
“The arrangement with the RLD, if it comes about, will revive the dying party (the RLD) at the expense of alienating the Muslim voters from the SP in next year’s election”, a senior SP leader predicted, adding that it was “most unlikely” that the Congress would agree to align with such a combination.
The RLD leader’s moves are understandable. With the Narendra Modi juggernaut having decimated his party’s support base among the “Jats” in the 2014 general elections, Singh has been in political oblivion. A membership of the Rajya Sabha –with the SP’s support – can politically rehabilitate him and also help him retrieve the official Tughlaq Road bungalow that he had had to vacate after ceasing to remain a member of the Lok Sabha.
But Mulayam’s gains from such an arrangement seem limited, at best. “An alliance with Singh can marginally neutralize the gains Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is reported to have made in Western UP in recent months, but this will come at the cost of demoralizing SP workers who have toiled hard”, said a senior SP leader.