A late night phone call from RJD chief Lalu Prasad to Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Friday offering his party five seats to contest in the Bihar Assembly polls seems to have saved the “grand alliance” of Janata Parivar from disintegrating for now.
“We have decided to give three seats earlier allotted to the NCP and two others from the RJD quota to the Samajwadi Party in the Bihar elections,” Lalu told reporters in Patna Saturday.
After calling Mulayam, Lalu also held a late night meeting with SP’s national general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Kiranmay Nanda, who had reached Patna Friday reportedly to announce his party’s decision of moving away out of the grand alliance.
Nanda, who returned to Delhi Saturday, said SP has called its parliamentary board meeting in Lucknow on August 30 to discuss “the proposal from Laluji” and decide the next course of action. “I am not announcing anything new today. I had a meeting with RJD leaders including Laluji. He has agreed to give us some seats for contesting elections in Bihar. I have conveyed the developments to my leadership,” Nanda told The Indian Express. The party confirmed that Mulayam will not attend the Mahagathbandhan rally of JD(U), RJD and Congress to be held in Patna on Sunday. “Mulayam had not attended rallies in the past also with Congress. It is our firm stand,” Nanda said.
However, Mulayam’s younger brother and Cabinet minister in Akhilesh Yadav government, Shivpal Singh Yadav, will take part to the rally, which will be attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu.
“Yes, I will take part in the Sunday’s rally,” Shivpal told The Indian Express from Etawah. Asked if they were happy at getting five seats, Bihar SP chief Ramchandra Singh Yadav said, “Personally, I regard Laluji as a guardian, but a decision on seats would come from Lucknow”.
The Bihar unit of SP had launched an indefinite dharna after it was denied any seat in the grand alliance on August 12, when it was decided that RJD and JD-U will contest 100 seats each, Congress 40, and NCP three in the polls to the 243-seat Bihar Assembly. Peeved at the offer of only three seats, NCP had shut doors on the grand secular alliance saying it will form a third front with Left and other parties.
The Janata Parivar experiment was conceived last year with six parties – SP, RJD, JD(U), INLD, JD(S) and SJP —- joining hands under the leadership of Mulayam. Before the finer details like name and symbol of the group could be worked out, Mulayam’s cousin Ramgopal opposed the move putting the process on a slow track. In the Bihar polls, however, RJD, JD(U) and Congress went ahead with the “Mahagathbandhan” but left out SP, which had contested the state polls there earlier too.