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Family feuds delay Janata Parivar merger

April 15, 2015 07:59 IST

Family feuds, in what are essentially family-run outfits, have cast a shadow over the reunification efforts of Janata Party. Archis Mohan reports

The six Janata Parivar parties are likely to announce their merger later this week, but family feuds, in what are essentially family-run outfits, have cast a shadow over the reunification efforts.

The parties are Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party that currently rules Uttar Pradesh, Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal, Om Prakash Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal, Janata Dal (United) that rules Bihar, Janata Dal (Secular) of H D Deve Gowda and the Socialist Janata Party that has a small base in Kerala.

The Janata leaders have decided to make Mulayam the chief of the new Samajwadi Janata Dal, with SP's 'bicycle' as its symbol.

The SP is primarily run by Mulayam's extended family -- his brother Shivpal Yadav, along with Mulayam's son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

Mulayam's cousin Ram Gopal Yadav is entrusted with the responsibility of party matters in Parliament.

Of its five MPs in the Lok Sabha, four are from the Yadav clan -- Mulayam, daughter-in-law Dimple, nephews Akshay and Dharmendra and grandnephew Tej Pratap.

According to sources, some of the men in Mulayam’s family are not keen on the impending merger -- reason why the official announcement has been delayed more than once.

They believe the SP, the biggest party of the six, stands more to lose with the merger.

But Janata insiders say the real reason is that in the new outfit, Shivpal and Ram Gopal will neither find as prominent a place nor the kind of decision making space they currently have in SP.

However, Janata Dal (United) President Sharad Yadav appeared confident on Monday that the SP chief will announce the merger later this week.

The Bihar constituents of the new party, the RJD and JD(U), want the merger to take place sooner so that a united Samajwadi Janata Dal enters the Bihar assembly poll arena in November.

The BJP had swept Bihar in the Lok Sabha polls but the combined vote share of Nitish Kumar's JD-U and RJD was greater than that of the BJP.

The two parties were not allies then, but had seat adjustment in the subsequent Assembly bypolls that helped them defeat BJP candidates in most seats.

However, RJD chief Lalu Prasad is faced with a family feud of another kind. RJD MP Pappu Yadav, a Lok Sabha MP, is upset after Lalu said only his son will succeed him as the party chief.

But not all is well between Yadav’s children. Sources say Lalu’s two sons are uncomfortable with their elder sister, Misa Bharati, being increasingly accepted by party’s second rung leadership.

They believe Bharati is more suited to lead the party than her brothers.

Incidentally, Mulayam and Lalu are now relatives. Lalu’s daughter Raj Lakshmi, married Mulayam’s grandnephew Tej Pratap, in February.

The cycle symbol, which the Samajwadi Janata Party seeks to adopt, is reserved for the National Panthers Party in Jammu and Kashmir, the Telugu Desam Party in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Kerala Congress in Kerala, Manipuar People’s Party in Manipur, while G K Vasan’s Tamil Maanila Congress in Tamil Nadu has staked claim to the symbol in the southern state.

Although, barring Kerala, none of the six Janata Parivar parties has any significant presence in these states.

The new party plans to request the Election Commission to grant it the ‘wheel’ symbol. The ‘wheel’ was the symbol that the Janata Dal adopted in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, and went on to form a coalition government under VP Singh.

Former Bihar CM and JD (U) dissident Jitan Ram Manjhi is likely to stake claim to his former party’s ‘arrow’ election symbol.

Archis Mohan