THE much-expected merger of the Janata Parivar parties has been put on hold for now with RJD chief Lalu Prasad not agreeing to JD (U)’s proposal of projecting Nitish Kumar as face of the new party in Bihar.
While Nitish is scheduled to go ahead with booth-level conference of JD (U) workers from 15 February, Lalu also announced his party’s solo plan by announcing his campaign in Bihar from March, after the marriage of his youngest daughter Raj Lakshmi with Mainpuri SP MP Tej Pratap Yadav in February.
Although SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is understood to have given the go-ahead to the merger and agreed to name of new party as Samajwadi Janata Dal, problems seem to have cropped up from Bihar that will go to polls later this year. Sources said the Lalu camp was not ready to commit JD (U) to project Nitish as the CM nominee.
An RJD leader said: “There is apprehension of backlash of Yadav votes in face of declaring Nitish as leader. The party is open to leadership choice in post poll scenario. Nitish cannot be accepted as leader of Yadavs even though he has a development face.”
JD (U) national president Sharad Yadav on Thursday met Lalu to “sort out differences between him and Nitish” and make merger possible ahead of the upcoming budget session to take on NDA government unitedly in Parliament on issues of farmers and black money.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had initial hitch over party symbol, had been won over with the Janata Parivar constituents assuring that the SP’s bicycle symbol would be retained and “Samajwadi” prefix would continue in name of new party, proposed as “Samajwadi Janata Dal”.
Most constituents also came up with formula of leadership division for stalwarts — Mulayam as party president, Nitish as vice-president, Lalu as campaign committee chairperson and Sharad Yadav as leader of the new party in Rajya Sabha.
“While this formula was accepted, hitch continued on Bihar issues where RJD and JD (U) have not hit a common ground yet,” said a JD (U) source, apprehending that the merger may not take place because of “ego clashes” between Lalu and Nitish.
JD (U) Rajya Sabha MP KC Tyagi, however, told The Indian Express: “The merger has been cleared from Mulayam Singh’s end. There has been some delay but it will take place because the united fight of Janata Parivar alone can check BJP in Bihar and elsewhere.”