BIHAR CHIEF Minister Nitish Kumar will not attend the Samajwadi Party’s November 5 silver jubilee function in Lucknow and made it clear why — it does not want to be seen as taking sides when the party is feuding. Nitish’s ally Lalu Prasad, RJD chief, has confirmed his participation.
JD (U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi said Nitish discussed his invitation with party leaders before deciding not to go. “It has been a tough call but we had to take a judicious decision,” Tyagi said. “We stand by a unified Samajwadi Party but do not want to please one side and displease the other. Let them sort out their problems.”
The silver jubilee function is widely being associated with SP leader Shivpal Yadav who has gone about inviting leaders of various allies. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the other side of the feud, has an event of his own, a Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra setting out on on its first leg Thursday. The rath was parked outside his residence Tuesday, with an image of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav but none of Shivpal, his uncle.
Negotiations among parties continued Tuesday, with Congress poll strategist in UP Prashant Kishor meeting both Mulayam and Amar Singh. On October 26, Kishor had been at Tyagi’s home when Shivpal had called on the latter.
Nitish, meanwhile, was in an hour-long meeting with Tyagi at Sharad Yadav’s home, and all three leaders also spoke to RLD leader Ajit Singh, sources said. Ajit Singh will attend the Lucknow event. The JD(U) has decided to contest the UP polls in alliance with the RLD, while the RJD has decided not to contest.
“We are happy that the SP chief has taken the initiative to reunite the Janta Parivar, even though the effort comes in the midst of an internal problem in the SP,” said RJD national spokesperson Manoj Kumar Jha. And RJD MLA Bhola Yadav, known to be close to Lalu, said, “Lalu will attend the Lucknow event. He has no pressing engagement,”
UP minister Manoj Pandey, co-convener of the event, said they have received confirmation from Lalu as well as Ajit Singh, former PM H D Deve Gowda of the JD(S) and INLD leader Abhey Singh Chautala.
SP sources said, however, that they are unlikely to invite anyone from the Congress. “We are inviting only parties associated with the socialist ideology. There may be negotiations with the Congress for an alliance, but those would be after this event,” said an SP leader. At the same time, SP spokesperson Mohd Shahid said the event would be a first step towards the formation of a grand alliance against communal forces.
Controversial minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati is in charge of the celebrations.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh’s yatra is set to feature various expelled youths leaders and seniors left out of Shivpal’s state team. It is Mulayam who is expected to flag off the yatra.
Akhilesh, for his part, will take a break for the party’s silver jubilee event. His yatra will run for only a day in the first phase, covering nearly 75 km from opposite his official residence to Shuklaganj in Unnao district, where he will address his 15th public meeting of the day. “The second phase will begin in Kanpur and cover Bundelkhand region. The schedule and route will be finalised after the silver jubilee celebration,” said a party leader.