Leaders of the 'Janata Parivar' at a recent meeting in Delhi. (Press Trust of India)
The merger of Janata Parivar offshoots was on track, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar has asserted after a meeting with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, where RJD President Lalu Prasad was also present to discuss issues like flag and symbol of the proposed outfit.
Emerging from the meeting, also attended by JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, Mr Kumar dismissed speculation that their grand plan to take on BJP with the merger has gone awry.
"We had earlier taken a decision about merging our parties and Mulayam Singh ji was authorised to take the proposal forward. We sat together today in this regard. He will speak to Deve Gowda ji and INLD leaders and we will have a formal meeting," Mr Kumar said, noting their meeting today was informal. Mr Gowda is the president of the JD(S).
They also deliberated over the contours of their likely joint protests against the Narendra Modi government's "ordinance raj", Mr Kumar said, but no date was finalised.
There are suggestions that JD(U) and RJD may merge before the grand merger of five parties as a prolonged delay may be detrimental to their interests in Bihar, which faces polls later this year, much ahead of SP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, which is scheduled to go to polls in 2017.
JD(U) is in power in Bihar with RJD's support and they face a strong challenge from the BJP, which routed both these parties in the Lok Sabha elections. JD(U) and RJD had fought Lok Sabha polls separately and joined hands following the drubbing.
Mr Prasad said the SP chief would take a decision on their merger soon, and attacked the BJP government over its "unfulfilled" promises and accused it of "cheating" people.
JD(U) President Sharad Yadav dismissed reports that his party and RJD are set to remove Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who was handpicked by Mr Kumar but has embarrassed the party with his controversial statements, saying it was not on
He also took a dig at Prime MInister Modi's rally at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan, saying it was for the first time that chairs were used to seat audience in that "small place", suggesting that the crowd at the meeting was not much.