Indian opposition politics: Move toward merger of former Janata constituents to fight BJP’s Hindutva threat!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Some socialist constituents of erstwhile Janata Party which had come into existence as the Congress Party withdrew in 1977 the draconian emergency laws imposed by the then PM Indira Gandhi in 1977 following Allahabad High Court setting aside her election to parliament, and won the general poll to from the first ever non-Congress government at centre and later in many states, are now busy recasting their strategy to revive the JP in some form. They have launched it as a testing exercise in Bihar state in north India which is going to poll, scheduled in September-October.
The Janata Party (People’s Party) was an amalgam of Indian political parties opposed to the State of Emergency that was imposed between 1975 and 1977 by the government of India under the prime ministership of Indira Gandhi of Indian national Congress party. In the general election held after the end of the state of emergency in 1977, the Janata party defeated Congress (R) to form the first non-Congress government in the history of the Republic of India. The Janata Party is a child of the m,ost epoch-making stuggle in the history of Indian democracy. In March 1977 the people of India, under the inspiring leadership of Jayaprakash Narayanan, elected the Janata Party to power and entrusted it with the task of restoring democracy and freedom to the people and constructing an egalitarian)
The socialist politician who is now in the centre of merger move is the Janata Dal (United) leader and incumbent Bihar CM Nitish Kumar who will lead an anti-BJP coalition for this year’s Bihar Assembly elections. Other two major social leaders and MPs who back him are the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (former defence minister) from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal – they have nominated Nitish Kumar to be the alliance’s presumptive chief minister.
The three leaders have declared the defeat of communal BJP as their chief objective of their united front. By making Lalu Prasad recommend Nitish Kumar’s name on June 08, Mulayam Singh Yadav tried to signal unity in the ranks of the nation-wide partnership of socialist parties that he leads. But in a telling appeal, Lalu Prasad asked workers of both the RJD and the JD (U) to ensure the victory of the coalition.
After decades of bitter rivalry, Lalu and Nitish came together last year after being trounced by the BJP in the Parliamentary election. The experiment brought dividend in bye-elections held for 10 seats – they won six. The Congress and other parties that will be a part of the Bihar alliance have said they back projecting Nitish Kumar as chief ministerial candidate.
Mulayam Singh’s announcement ended days of speculation that the proposed alliance between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JDU and Lalu Prasad’s RJD in the state would be a non-starter, as senior leaders of both parties made tough public statements on the issue of choosing a chief ministerial candidate. By Mulayam Singh’s side at his Delhi residence today sat Lalu Prasad, who said, “I had asked Mulayam ji to decide and said we’ll all accept it. Nitish Kumar is our chief ministerial candidate.” Prasad added, “No one from the RJD is interested in becoming chief minister.”
Lalu Prasad, also a former chief minister of Bihar and former central Railways minister cannot run for office due to his conviction in a corruption case earlier. Both Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh emphasized that the alliance’s chief aim is to stop the BJP from adding Bihar to its kitty of states. Over the last few weeks, senior RJD leaders like Raghuvansh Prasad Yadav said Nitish Kumar’s candidacy for the chief minister’s post was not acceptable to them. JD(U) leaders hit back, insisting Kumar must lead any alliance that they are a part of.
Communal riots orchestrated by political organizations and states for power are worst crime on Humanity, and it is a great move indeed by the Secular Parties in Bihar, from now on Nitish Kumar must be more vigilant with RSS and BJP cadre who are known and proven again and again to be instigating Communal flames across Bihar, the way they did in UP, the slightest incident must be crushed with heavy handedly by Nitish, and should stop the Communal forces to win a single seat in Bihar, like what Arvind Kejriwal did in Delhi, if possible take AAP help in making the Strategy strong and winnable.
The CPI (M) chose to adopt wait-and-watch approach over forming alliance with Janata Parivar saying any decision to go with Janata outfits will be taken after discussing “developments” with other Left outfits. “What we have decided is that strengthening of the Left is only strengthening a force against communal forces. Left has been the most consistent and will remain the most consistent and strong anti-communal force in the country. “We shall meet now with other Left parties and see what are the developments taking place and accordingly, take the decisions. But now, our decision is to contest these elections along with Left parties,” party’s new General Secretary Sitaram Yechury who hails from erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, told reporters. When queried if CPI(M) was open to the idea of tying up with Janata Parivar after JD(U) and RJD came together resolving reported differences between them, Yechury welcomed the development saying it was “very good” that they (the two parties) came together in the fight against communal forces. “Butafter clearing hills in the Himalayas, the Ganga, as it descends into Gangetic plain in Bihar, flows faster. So, a lot of water will flow and hope there is consolidation of the process to meet people’s concerns today and against communalism,” he said. The Rajya Sabha MP added that in Bihar, CPI (M) will contest the polls mainly with CPI and CPI (Marxist-Leninist), which, he said, “was decided some time ago”. Asked if his party’s doors are open for alliance, he said “when time comes, we will see what changes take place.. Our target is communist forces should contest the polls together.” Yechury also said that stronger the Left parties become, stronger will be fight against communal forces.
The whole country has its eyes on the elections in Bihar. The Hindutva communal forces work fast and the alliance should saw the need of the hour. They say “Our hearts have come together, will sort out seats too”.
By declaring Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar as chief ministerial candidate, the Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav tried to signal unity in the ranks of the socialist parties to contest against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the crucial state assembly polls of Bihar later this year. But in the coming days the seat distribution, accommodating other allies like the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and even the Left will prove a daunting task for the anti-BJP front.
Knowing fully well that he cannot run for office due to his conviction in a corruption case, Lalu who was stated to have been batting to project one of his family members as deputy chief minister had to back out following the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi sending clear signals that he was backing Nitish Kumar as the chief minister, leaving the old ally the RJD high and dry. Even while announcing the name of Nitish as the chief ministerial candidate, Lalu could not hide his emotions, implying he was doing it under duress and he had run out of options.
Notwithstanding the Janata Parivar alliance Nitish suspects that the RJD chief may not possibly be able to transfer his core Yadav votes to the Janata Dal. He is, therefore, wooing the Congress to be a part of the secular alliance as that will not only keep Lalu under check but will also consolidate Dalit and Muslim votes. Nitish Kumar’s calculation is that the Congress has equal number of votes of Dalits and Muslims as the RJD.
The Janata Dal sources here said though the Congress was not invited to the alliance talks held at the residence of Mulayam Singh, Bihar chief minister called on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to plead with him to be part of the alliance to help defeat the BJP. The Congress sources said while Rahul is still reluctant to have any truck with Lalu, the party will soon start negotiations on seat sharing with the Janata alliance.
Back in Patna, Nitish went on record that there is “no doubt that Congress will be part of JD (U)-RJD alliance for the upcoming Bihar assembly polls.” He said three members each of RJD and JD(U) will meet on June 09 for discussions on the seat distribution. Lalu was initially opposed to projection of Nitish as the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance, but he changed the tune, endorsing his candidature and claiming that no one from the RJD is interested to become the CM. The alliance has planned a rally on June 18 against the controversial land ordinance to test public mood. Sources said the estranged RJD leader Pappu Yadav was giving Lalu trouble. He is reminding the Yadavs, backbone of Lalu’s juggernaut, how badly they were treated during the 10-year rule of Nitish Kumar. Many in JD (U) also, say it would be difficult to sell development agenda, having an alliance with former chief minister Lalu Yadav, whose apathy towards development has been phenomenal during his tenure between 1990 and 2005.
However, this is only the beginning of secular unity move and many issues would crop up soon especially after the Bihar poll if the alliance wins it. There would be fierce competition for PM candidature. The socialist alliance cannot win enough seats to rule India even with the backing of Leftist wings. They will certainly require more non-BJP MPs. If the AAP tires to seriously consider the expansion of its pro common masses agenda across the nation with genuinely committed party wings, Socialists would do better by making a common cause of defeating all communal politics with Kejriwal’s party.
Perhaps the socialist trio must be pondering over this national scenario.