Leaders of erstwhile “Janata Parivar” on Sunday shared stage at a rally organised by RLD chief Ajit Singh, giving a clarion call for coming together once again to fight “communal” BJP. Though Samajwadi Party gave in-principle support to a united front, it appeared unwilling to play ball.
Ajit Singh, who has been campaigning for declaring a Tughlaq Road bungalow— formerly occupied by the RLD chief — as a memorial to his father and ex-PM Chaudhary Charan Singh, had organised the Kisan Swabhiman Rally at Partapur bypass on Dehli-Hardwar highway to put pressure on the NDA government. The rally was attended by the leaders of various splinter groups of the old Janata Parivar, including former prime minister and JD(S)’s H D Deve Gowda, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and Bihar ex-chief minister Nitish Kumar.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, however, gave it miss, and sent state PWD minister Shivpal Singh Yadav as the party representative, who pointed out in the rally that it was Samajwadi Party and not RLD which first made demand for Bharat Ratna to Charan Singh, a farmer leader.
He also projected Samajwadi Party was serious about issues related to farmers and that he would ask the Chief Minister to withdraw cases against them — a demand originally made by RLD.
The call for RLD and SP joining hands was first made by JD(U) leader Nitish, who said, “The days of talking about it in suggestions or indirectly are over and it’s time for all those following Lohia and Chaudhary Charan Singh come together (to challenge the Sangh Parivar)… Shivpalji now you and Mulayamji have to take a decision.”
He told the rally, “I have been fighting Lalu Prasad (RJD chief) for 20 years in Bihar, but when the danger came, we did not delay for a moment and got united… If we get united, the country will get a direction. If you remain separate, you will keep falling.”
In his speech, Shivpal replied, “The communal forces can be taken out of the political map if we, followers of Charan Singh, come together”.
The SP and RLD in Uttar Pradesh were decimated in the Lok Sabha polls with BJP nearly sweeping the 80 seats. However, in the byelections to 11 Assembly seats, the ruling party won eight seats, with Mulayam and other SP leaders believing that SP got substantial votes of the Jat community in west UP and that they do not need an alliance with the RLD to secure the support of their traditional vote bank.
Sharad Yadav and Deve Gowda echoed similar sentiments, but a non-committal Shivpal towards joining the Janata Parivar has upset calculations of Ajit Singh to establish himself as a force to reckon with. That is perhaps why Ajit wrapped up his speech in only four minutes though he was the main speaker in the Sunday’s show.
Lalu did not attend the rally due to health conditions while a message from Harish Rawat, Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, was read out during the rally, suggesting that the Congress too has extended its support to any political combination to fight the “sampradayik (communal) party” or the BJP .