The decision of six parties of Janata Parivar to merge into a new party would set off a churning in Kerala politics. Kerala has JD-S as a partner of the CPI (M)-led Opposition front, while JD-U state faction is an ally of Congress-led ruling front.
If Kerala factions of the Janata Dal are forced to go by the decision of the national leadership of the new party to remain together in the state also, either JD-S has to quit the LDF or JD-U has to come out of the UDF.
It was in last December that Socialist Janata Democratic (SJD), a splinter group of the JD-S in Kerala, had merged with the JD-U, led by Sharad Yadav. The SJD, which merged with JD-U, was formed in 2010 after renaming a breakaway faction of the JD(S) led by M P Veerendrakumar. The JD (S) faction of Veerendrakumar had quit the LDF in 2009 after the CPI (M) denied its sitting LS seat.
In the 140-strong Kerala Assembly, the UDF had 75 members until recently. But the exit of Kerala Congress (B) legislator K B Ganesh Kumar from the UDF and the death of former Speaker G Karthikeyan have reduced the ruling front’s current strength to 73. A by-election is in the offing to the seat fallen vacant after the death of Karthikeyan. Adding trouble to the UDF, Kerala Congress (M) leader P C George, who had been removed as government chief whip, is already sulking.
It is against this backdrop, the issue of realignment of Janata Dal parties emerges crucial for the Congress-led government. The JD-S has four legislators while the Congress ally JD-U has only two members in the assembly. If a merger happens in favour of the LDF, such a move would push the UDF into a precipice. The CPI (M) has already wooed the JD-U to return to the LDF as part of its strategy to bring all Left parties into a single fold.
JD-S parliamentary party leader Mathew T Thomas said there is no question of his party merging with the JD-U as part of a national strategy. “The JD-U is part of the UDF government which is weltering in corruption,’’ said Thomas.
He said the issue would not have that much urgency as the Janata Parivar is yet to have a name and flag. “At the same time, I cannot rule out the possibility of a merger. Let us wait and see,’’ said Thomas, who is leading the Deva Gowda faction of the Janata Dal in Kerala.
JD-U state general secretary Sheik P Haris said the decision of the six parties to merge into a single entity has put the Janata Dal parties in Kerala in a dilemma.
“The party state leadership would meet on April 18 to discuss the political scenario. It would be difficult for the Janata Dal groups in Kerala to keep away from the political approach of the national leadership of the Janata Parivar. If the leadership insists for a merger, we would be left with little option. One or other party has to come out of its political front. A decision has to be taken before the next local body elections slated for October, 2015,’’ said Haris.
Although the JD-S in Kerala had split into two factions after the LS elections in 2009, they sailed together in the Assembly in a tactical move. Hence, both factions did not face any trouble over their assembly membership until the next elections in 2011.