Sharad Yadav nixes merger rumours with RLSP
For 2 months, speculation was rife he would merge his outfit with RLSP. Sources close to the development privately concede that the sudden U-turn has been prompted by RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s apparent “discomfort” with the idea of having a parallel power centre in the Grand Alliance.
In a major development in the Grand Alliance, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) led by former Union minister Sharad Yadav on Tuesday scotched the speculation that his party was in the process of merging with Upendra Kushwaha–led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).
The official denial comes months after the two leaders allowed conjecture and media reports, suggesting their coming together, to build up.
“There is no truth in these reports…These are concocted stories…and I completely reject them. No discussions are even being held in this direction,” the LJD chief said in a written statement.
Sources close to the development privately concede that the sudden U-turn has been prompted by RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s apparent “discomfort” with the idea of having a parallel power centre in the Grand Alliance.
The LJD chief, who had defeated Lalu Prasad in Madhepura in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, has now joined the GA after breaking ties with the JD (U) and lately bargaining hard for three Lok Sabha seats of Madhepura, Sitamarhi and Jamui.
RLSP chief Kushwaha, who stepped down as union minister of state in the NDA ministry on the eve of results for five state assembly polls, has been pitching for six seats. He had deserted the NDA, rejecting BJP’s offer of only two seats.
As the merged entity would have bolstered the RLSP, the RJD chief is learnt not only to have prevailed on LJD chief to nix the idea but also mounted pressure on him to consider contesting RJD’s ‘lantern’ symbol from Madhepura itself. Besides, Prasad is not keen on parting three seats for LJD in any case.
A senior RJD leader, requesting not to be quoted, said that the party chief wanted to ward off any future challenge to the leadership of Tejawashi Yadav. “With overzealous RLSP leaders not willing to tone down their chief ministerial cries for Upendra Kushwaha in 2020, the RJD can ill-afford to allow others to build and flourish on their vote bank and still cast a question mark on the passing of leadership mantle to Prasad’s younger son,” he explained.
The first plan of Kushwaha to share dais with any Opposition leader was with Sharad Yadav in Munger. It did not materialise. He then met him in Delhi, before calling on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
The LJD chief, when he was recently in Ranchi to meet Lalu Prasad, was asked by reporters about his party’s possible merger with the RLSP. He has just said he would soon let the media know, giving rise to speculation of merger.
LJD leader and former Rajya Sabha member Ali Anwar, however, said he was not aware of the reasons that had led to the developments. "The effort for defeating BJP is what that matters in the end," he said.
“I was the first to part ways with JD (U) chief Nitish Kumar due to issued-based differences. I have kept myself aloof from the hard bargaining in terms of seat sharing and its outcomes,” Anwar said.