Asserting that nationwide opposition unity is imperative to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party, former Union minister and socialist leader Sharad Yadav on Sunday merged his party Loktantrik Janata Dal with Rashtriya Janata Dal and pitched for coming together of all forces fighting the ruling party.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav welcomed the veteran leader, who had fought some of the keenest Lok Sabha poll battles against his father Lalu Prasad Yadav in the 1990s, into his party's fold, saying it is a message for the anti-BJP parties to unite to take on the ruling dispensation.
The young RJD leader alleged that the Constitution and democracy are in danger and all parties standing for secularism and social justice must join hands.
In an apparent swipe at the BJP over its leaders' support to Hindi film The Kashmir Files, he said people are in distress due to price rise and unemployment, and debate should be over these issues instead of some movie setting agenda.
The movie, which seeks to highlight the violent trauma Kashmiri Pandits underwent leading to their exodus from the Valley over three decades back, has been accused by critics, including leaders of opposition parties, of fomenting "hate and division" with its alleged negative portrayal of Kashmiri Muslims.
"Politics of hate is taking place, and the Constitution and democracy are in danger," Tejashwi Yadav told reporters, thanking Sharad Yadav for showing his faith in him.
The move by Sharad Yadav (74), who had been keeping low after battling health issues for months, is seen as an effort to rehabilitate his colleagues and other associates as his LJD could never become a serious force after its launch following his separation with Janata Dal-United leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
He had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election on the RJD ticket while his daughter had fought the 2020 Bihar assembly poll as a nominee of the Congress, then an RJD ally.
Unity of opposition parties is his priority, Sharad Yadav told reporters here, while lauding Tejashwi Yadav for leading the fight against the BJP-led NDA in Bihar.
Opposition parties should join hands nationwide to take on the BJP, he said, adding that no one party can singlehandedly defeat it.
He hailed Tejashwi Yadav as Bihar's future and played down reporters' queries about the possible leader of the opposition parties if they were to unite. Citing past instances, he said parties have first joined forces and a leader was picked later.
A broader unity of opposition parties should be the first step considering the situation in the country, he said.
"This step (merger) has been necessitated as an initiative of my regular efforts for bringing together scattered Janata parivar in view of the current political situation in the country," he had earlier said in a statement, claiming the BJP government has been a failure and people are looking for a strong opposition.
The merger marks his coming together with Lalu Prasad Yadav after more than three decades with both leaders battling health issues and seen to be at a fag end of their political career.
Lalu Prasad had quit Janata Dal in 1997 to form his party over differences with its leadership as the probe against fodder scam, in which he was a main accused, gathered pace.
Sharad Yadav was then seen as his rival within the Janata Dal, and he later joined hands with Nitish Kumar to end the RJD's 15-year reign in Bihar in 2005.
Sharad Yadav was, however, also seen as a key votary for the JDU-RJD alliance in the 2015 assembly polls in Bihar against the BJP, and he later parted ways with Kumar over his decision to ally with the BJP again.