The Samajwadi Party has set about its efforts to forge a third front in Bihar by pulling members and support from constituents of both major fronts. At a function in Lucknow Thursday, it inducted former Union minister Raghunath Jha, who has left the RJD, as well as a JD(U) MLC, Munna Singh. It also tied up with the Samajwadi Janata Dal (Democratic) floated by Devendra Yadav, a former Union minister who has broken away from Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM(S).
The SP will contest the polls in partnership with the SJD(D) besides the NCP and Purno A Sangma’s NPP, SP general secretary Ramgopal Yadav said. A large number of Jha’s supporters were at the function, chanting, “Sher-e-Bihar Raghunath Jha Zindabad”.
Jha cited lack of respect from Lalu Prasad as his reason for quitting the RJD. “I made Lalu the chief minister of Bihar and later elevated his wife to the same post. But he did not give me maan samman, so I resigned,” Jha said. “At present, after (Ram Manohar) Lohia and JP (Narayan), Mulayam Singh Yadav is the only socialist leader. I will work with him and the SP.”
Devendra Yadav said, “We will clean up Bihar. Only we can clean the dirt of the two (BJP and grand alliance).”
Jha held a meeting behind closed doors with Mulayam and Akhilesh Yadav. The distribution of party tickets is said to have been discussed. The SP’s Bihar in-charge Kiranmoy Nanda and Bihar unit president Ramchandra Yadav were present during the deliberations.
Asked about the new front’s chief ministerial candidate, Ramgopal Yadav said it has not been decided yet. He said leaders of the four parties will jointly announce candidates in Patna Friday for the first phase of the pols. Another list will be declared two days later.
About parting ways with Lalu and Nitish Kumar, Ramgopal said that it was not possible for the SP to merge with them as that would have meant giving up its identity. “I know it was a conspiracy. Had we joined them, we would have lost not only the symbol but also the party,” he said.
On allegations by the grand alliance that the SP was helping the BJP by splitting the opposition votes, Ramgopal said, “Let them make allegations. In politics, such charges do get levelled.”