Anti-Modi front splits; SP pulls out of alliance, says will go it alone in Bihar assembly polls

Janata privar cracks

Lucknow/New Delhi, Sept 3: The nascent anti-BJP grand alliance got a blow ahead of the Bihar assembly polls with Samajwadi Party storming out of it, saying it felt “humiliated” at being allotted a paltry five seats.

SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav told reporters in Lucknow, “In Bihar the party will contest separately. The bigger parties in the alliance did not consult us while declaring seats due to which the SP felt humiliated. This is not the ‘gathbandhan dharma’.”

The decision to walk out of the coalition was taken at a meeting of SP parliamentary board in the presence of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had brokered peace between Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and succeeded in persuading the latter to accept the Bihar Chief Minister as the secular alliance’s chief ministerial candidate.

The development, coming weeks ahead of the high-stakes electoral battle may split the secular votes being eyed by the JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine.

However, president Sharad Yadav put up a brave face, claiming differences with Samajwadi Party will be sorted out and the alliance will remain intact.

Today’s development may also put into jeopardy the proposed merger of six splintered parties of the erstwhile Janata Parivar into one political entity. These parties– SP, RJD, JD(U), JD(S), INLD and Samajwadi Janata Party–had in April this year announced a merger, which they had said, would be formalised after the Bihar elections.

Yadav said it was the duty of the major secular alliance constituents to consult SP before finalising seat-sharing arrangement.

“We came to know about this through the media. This is not ‘gathbandhan dharma’ and SP felt humiliated,” he said.

As the fledgling coalition faced turbulence, JD(U) scrambled to salvage the situation. Party president Sharad Yadav spoke to Mulayam and hoped a “solution” will be found soon.

“We are old very old colleagues. I have to talk to Bhai (brother) Mulayam. I have talked to him once. I will talk to him again. We will resolve this finally,” Yadav told reporters in Delhi, hours after Ram Gopal Yadav announced the SP’s decision to opt out of the coalition and go it alone.

The JD(U) leader dismissed suggestions of SP “playing into the hands of BJP” by walking out of the secular alliance.

“This angle is not correct. Mulayam Singh Yadav is not someone new (to politics). There was a time when he had even got the sobriquet of Maulana Mulayam. Please don’t infer any such meaning. Political leaders meet among themselves. Even I meet leaders of many parties. Does that I mean I am working in tandem with them.”

“We will solve the probem that has arisen. You have to see the country is full of internal contradictions,” Yadav said.

He was responding to a question whether he suspected SP of playing according to BJP’s script by storming out of the alliance in Bihar.

Mulayam Singh Yadav had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi some time back, while party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav reportedly met BJP Chief Amit Shah on Monday before a meeting of NDA constituents.

Yadav, when asked about the future of the ‘Janata Parivar’ merger, did not give a categorical answer and only reminded the media about his statement when he had ruled out the formalisation of the merger before Bihar polls. Yadav said at that time iself, he had said he would not sign the “death warrant” of the party.

Yadav said the party was not happy with the paltry two or five seats offered out of the 243 in the state assembly.

“We will win many more seats by contesting on our own as compared to that being offered by the alliance. We will contest respectfully,” he said.

SP is the second party after Sharad Pawar’s NCP to have quit the alliance over allocation of a handful of seats to them by the major players in the coalition.

Under the arrangement initially announced by Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad recently, JD(U) and RJD were to contest 100 seats each and Congress 40, leaving the rest three in the 243-member assembly for NCP. Dissatisfied, NCP walked out.

Lalu, who also has family ties with Mulayam, had said he may cede a few seats for SP, if need be. After NCP quit the alliance, the three seats set aside for it, besides two from the RJD quota, were spared for SP.

“Respecting the sentiments of the party workers, SP has decided to go all alone in Bihar Assembly elections,” he said.

Though Samajwadi Party has been a marginal player in Bihar politics, its presence in the alliance would have led to greater consolidation of secular votes. It had fielded 146 candidates in the last elections and garnered 0.55 per cent of total votes polled.

(With Agency Inputs)

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