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July 21, 1999
Samata, Lok Shakti merge with JD's breakaway faction
In a major political development aimed at strengthening the Bharatiya Janata Party-sponsored National Democratic Alliance, the Lok Shakti and the Samata Party today decided to merge with the Janata Dal.
The unified party will contest the Lok Sabha elections under the chakra symbol of the Dal.
The decision to unify the Janata parivar was taken last night by the presidents of the three parties notwithstanding the opposition within the Dal's political affairs committee. A majority of the PAC members had shot down the proposal to join the NDA.
Announcing the unification at a joint news conference in New Delhi today Janata Dal president Sharad Yadav said he would reconstitute both the PAC and the national executive shortly in a move to exclude leaders who had opposed the unification.
With this development, the Janata Dal has formally split. Both the factions are planning to approach the Election Commission for the symbol.
Lok Shakti president Ramakrishna Hegde also addressed the joint news conference.
Sharad Yadav said till the formalities of the merger are completed, the unified party will be administered by a steering committee during the general elections.
The news conference was addressed among others by Hegde, Samata Party chief George Fernandes, Karnataka Chief Minister J H Patel and senior JD leader Ram Vilas Paswan.
Yadav said the Indian polity is now left with two major streams -- the one led by the BJP and the other by the Congress-- and he had to choose one of them. The party has joined the NDA only under a common minimum programme, he added.
Yadav claimed that his decision has the backing of the majority at all levels of the party.
Fernandes expressed the hope that another JD breakaway party, the Biju Janata Dal too would follow suit and would fight the elections under one common symbol.
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