Samajwadi Party walking out of Janta Parivar or Bihar’s Grand Alliance will create more psychological dents than physical ones. The Samajwadi Party (SP) does not have a presence in Bihar and Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad could not have afforded to give the party more than 10+ seats for practical reasons. SP was not given any seat in the first seat-sharing exercise; it was given five seats on second thoughts which led to the state unit’s open rebellion.
However, this is not about the Bihar polls: the bigger message is about the dismantling of the Janta Parivar that had not taken off despite SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav being declared president of the unnamed and non-merged unit. SP was upset at more than one thing – there was no poster of Mulayam Singh Yadav on the Grand Alliance posters, he was not consulted before seat-sharing, he was not kept in the loop about the first Grand Alliance rally and he was not asked if his party was comfortable sharing dais with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
For precisely these reasons, Mulayam Singh Yadav chose to back out of Patna rally and send his brother Shivpal Yadav to represent him. The SP chief had sent a message with his absence but Lalu and Nitish camp did not get the message.
RJD and JD (U) leaders have gone into rapprochement mode. It is possible that the SP could be conceded a few more seats. For, while SP may not be a force in Bihar it has given impetus to fringe parties such as NCP, Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party to come together and forge the third front that has the potential to eat into vote bank of Lalu and Nitish.
There is another strong theory: that of SP’s growing proximity to BJP. It has been in the air for a while since Ram Gopal Yadav’s first statement on ruling out possibility of Janta merger before the Bihar polls. JD (U) and RJD have been wary of BJP’s designs to weaken them.
The Samajwadi party has no stake in Bihar—but this is not about a stake it, it is about being acknowledged and about playing politics within politics.