Janata Parivar efforts to put up a combined fight against the BJP-led alliance in Bihar in the coming assembly polls have gained momentum, with top leaders of the JD(U) and RJD planning a fresh round of discussions here on Sunday.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar arrived here from Patna on Saturday and RJD leader Lalu Prasad was expected to fly in later in the night. SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav, the president-designate of the proposed unified party of the Janata Parivar, had asked both to reach Delhi. He was also expected to arrive in the Capital soon. “We would sit together at Mulayam’s residence tomorrow,” a senior leader of the Janata group told The Sunday Express.
Sources said follow-up action on the merger of six parties, including the SP, JD(U) and RJD, was still on the table, but the senior leaders were set to work out a seat-sharing plan for Bihar polls for now and let the merger process take its own time.
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A seat-sharing understanding between Nitish and Lalu was essential, no matter whether it was a merger or just an adjustment. Their basic goal was the same — ensuring a one-against-one-fight in Bihar so that there was no division of anti-BJP votes. The sources said the common motivation for their getting together was to defeat the BJP in their own citadels, Bihar and UP, after the massive saffron upsurge in the Lok Sabha polls. If checked in Bihar now, the BJP’s position would be considerably weakened in UP too before it goes to assembly polls.
The ground for talks was set by JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, who held elaborate discussions with both Nitish and Lalu in Patna on Friday.
Sources said Nitish and Lalu too met early this week, away from media glare.
The change of mood was clearly visible in a Lalu tweet on Saturday. “BJP, RSS and BJP-backed media houses are more worried and anxious about (our) alliance. The fear of defeat has made place in their hearts before the elections,” he tweeted. This was in contrast to the strongly worded statements made recently by second-rung leaders of the RJD and the JD(U).
The sources said one more factor that made Lalu and Nitish explore a common meeting ground was the pressure built by their prospective candidates. They wanted a common front against the BJP. This pressure from within overweighed all other considerations. They said the unity was not a mirage, considering that the JD(U) used to contest a total of 124 of the 243 seats and the BJP, remaining 119 when they used to be alliance partners. If the JD(U) had to climb down a little and settle for 100 seats in view of new ground realities, it would not be a bad deal.