Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has called a meeting of Janata Parivar on Friday to discuss the issues holding back the much-anticipated merger of six parties ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections.
Mulayam’s decision to hold the meeting comes days after Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar asked the SP leader, also named the chief of the proposed party, to explain if it was only a “technical hitch” or something more that was delaying the merger.
The meeting is also crucial in the backdrop of the JD(U)-RJD squabble over seat-sharing for the Assembly elections, Lalu Prasad’s lack of enthusiasm for the merger, and his feelers to Nitish’s estranged aide Jitan Ram Manjhi in a bid to woo Mahadalits.
Nitish and Lalu have already arrived in the capital. While, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav would be attending the meeting, there was no word on JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda or any representation from INLD.
“Their presence is not important because the differences are confined to Bihar,” a source said, adding that it would take only an understanding between Nitish and Lalu to clear the air.
Though, Lalu might have helped Nitish to return as Chief Minister and also quell the revolt led by Manjhi, he would, for the long term, wish to marginalise the JD(U) leader. Therefore, keeping in view the limited options available to Nitish, he would naturally insist on being given a lion’s share of seats in the Bihar polls.
The sources in RJD disclosed that Lalu wants the 2014 Lok Sabha poll performance to be the basis of the seat-sharing formula. Nitish, however, is pushing for the 2010 Assembly poll performance as the basis for the seat-sharing.
Sharad Yadav, it has been learnt, wants Nitish and Lalu to sit together, identify the “winning” candidates and focus only on defeating BJP.
The sources rejected the contention of SP leader in Rajya Sabha Ram Gopal Yadav that a merger could lead to some practical difficulties with regard to the election symbol. They said that it had emerged after JD(U)’s consultations with the Election Commission that there was no problem in getting a new symbol, and if the constituent parties want, their symbols could be frozen post-merger.