Six parties with socialist roots have announced today that they are merging to form a national party headed by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. They were all once part of the Janata Dal, which disintegrated almost two decades ago.
The six parties that have merged today are - the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal United, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular), the Indian National Lok Dal and the Samajwadi Janata Party. They have had a trial run for a few months when they functioned as a bloc in and outside Parliament.
"We have merged," Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal United said after a meeting at Mulayam Singh's Delhi residence. He said a six-member committee will decide on the name of the new party, its symbol, flag and other details. Mulayam Singh will be chairman and will also head the parliamentary party.
Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal United and RJD's Lalu Yadav attended today's meeting. The first big test for the party will be the Bihar elections later this year, where the two stalwarts, bitter rivals for years, will lead its charge against a BJP determined to add the state to its kitty.
BJP chief Amit Shah declared yesterday, "I want to tell Lalu Yadav and Nitish, a zero plus zero is always equal to zero."
The math which brought Nitish and Lalu together was this: In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and its allies won 31 of Bihar's 40 seats. Nitish and Lalu, who fought separately, were routed. But the vote share of the BJP's alliance was about 36 per cent, roughly the same as that of Nitish and Lalu's parties combined.
They buried decades of differences to join hands for a 10-seat by-election late last year and won six. Merger talks began then and Mulayam Singh and the others were roped in to resurrect what they call the Janata Parivar. "It's a historic decision...we have united and we assure people that this will be a strong bond," Mulayam Singh said today.