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Samata Party, JD(U) inch closer to merger

Samata Party and Janata Dal (United) appears to be nearing certainty though Om Prakash Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) is not expected to give up its independent identity as yet.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2003 13:35 IST

With talks in an advanced stage, the merger of NDA partners Samata Party and Janata Dal (United) appears to be nearing certainty though Om Prakash Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) is not expected to give up its independent identity as yet.

Following up on their crucial October 15 meeting in the Capital, senior leaders of the two parties will confer again this week to finalise the blueprint for giving a concrete shape to the reunification move.

The earlier conclave held at Samata chief and Defence Minister George Fernandes' residence was attended by party colleagues Nitish Kumar and Digvijay Singh besides JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and Haryana Chief Minister Chautala.

According to sources, Fernandes and Yadav intended to cobble together a band of 23 by roping in MPs from smaller groups like the three-member breakaway faction of the RJD and the duo who parted ways with Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).

While his erstwhile party colleagues Jai Narain Prasad 'Nishad' and Ramesh Jigjinagi, who broke off from the JD(U) with him to form the LJP, may join the new Janata Parivar group within the coalition, Paswan himself is unlikely to throw in his lot with them.

Though not too happy with the Congress, Paswan is not keen to rejoin the NDA which he left after the Gujarat riots, sources said. Besides, though Fernandes is expected to make an attempt at persuade him to return, Paswan has too many problems with Yadav as well as Samata leader and Railway Minister Nitish Kumar.

The RJD (Democratic), comprising Nagmani, Sukhdeo Paswan and Anwar-ul-Haq, is already a part of the NDA while the Janata Party formed by Nishad and Jigjinagi is aligned with the ruling coalition.

Samata has 12 Lok Sabha members, including Raghunath Jha and Brahmanand Mandal who have been formally expelled from the party, but their expulsion orders have not been forwarded to the Speaker. The JD(U) has 6 MPs.

Sources said the bid to reunite constituents of the original Janata Dal within the NDA arose from a desire to strengthen their position in the ruling coalition.

Janata reunion

* George Fernandes (Samata): Pushing for Janata unity. As a first step, wants JD-U and Samata to unite

* Sharad Yadav (JD-U): Fernandes’ ally in unity efforts

* Om Prakash Chautala (INLD): Not ready to give up independent identity

* Ram Vilas Paswan (Lok Janashakti Party): Unlikely to join new Janata parivar. Has a problem with Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar

First Published: Oct 27, 2003 13:35 IST