Wily Mulayam Singh Yadav has given fresh twist to the drama surrounding the upcoming Bihar assembly polls. His Samajwadi Party — a marginal player in Bihar politics — has walked out of the anti-NDA alliance and decided to pursue an independent course.
Those who have watched Mulayam’s political flip-flop over the years, have no reason to be surprised over his latest U-turn. The Yadav chieftain played similar truant with the UPA for ten years, opposing its policies one day and supporting it the next day. During the last 15 months of the NDA government also, the Samajwadi Party has shown similar ambivalent approach towards the government.
For the record, Mulayam’s brother and SP General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav on Thursday said his party was unhappy with the five seats it was allotted in Bihar. But the script for the SP departure from the “grand alliance” was written last week when Mualayam skipped the Patna rally, which was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad.
Sources told this correspondent that two days ago Ramgopal Yadav had a prolonged meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah also, where Bihar elections came up for discussion. It is understood that the SP has struck a “deal” with the BJP to split the Yadav votes in Bihar.
“In Bihar the party will contest separately. The bigger parties in the alliance did not consult us while declaring seats due to which the SP felt humiliated. This is not the ‘gatbandhan dharma,'”
– SP National General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav talking to reporters in Lucknow.
After SP’s walkout from the grand alliance, the proposed merger of Janata parivar also looked uncertain. “I had opposed such merger in the past also, since it would have amounted to signing the death warrant of the party,” Ram Gopal Yadav said.
The SP was given five seats to contest in the 253-assmebly polls whereas the Janata Dal (U) and RJD will contest 100 seats each and Congress will vie for 40 seats in the alliance.
“We will win much more seats by contesting on our own as compared to that being offered by the alliance. We will contest respectfully,” he said.
The SP is likely to cobble together a third front with small parties like the Nationalist Congress Party, Left and some other groups.
“President of Bihar unit Ramchandra Yadav is in consultation with some other parties. Names of the candidates will be decided once the process of consultation is over,” he said.
There have been speculations that Mulayam was feeling cornered in the corruption case involving Noida chief engineer Yadav Singh who is facing a CBI probe in a Rs 1000 crores (cr) ($151 million) disproportionate assets case. There are allegations that top leaders of the Samajwadi party patronized the corrupt engineer. Mulayam’s recent overture to the BJP is seen as a way to wriggle out of trouble. However, Ramgopal Yadav denied such reports.
“Why should we have any fear in the Yadav Singh case? An inquiry should be conducted if any person has committed irregularity, and others should also be probed. You as well as we all know who were the persons Yadav Singh was close to.”
– Ramgopal Yadav
Mulayam’s decision to go it alone in Bihar is not going to cause much hiccup in the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance because the Samajwadi party is hardly a force in the state. The party does not have a mass leader nor any organization in the state. At best it can hope to cut into some votes of the Yadavs. However, the development has come as a source of embarrassment for the Grand alliance and given the BJP chance to questions its chemistry.
“This alliance has started to fall apart even before the polls. How can anyone expect it deliver any(thing) good for Bihar?”
– Senior BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
But JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav was still hopeful that he would able to persuade Mulayam Singh Yadav return to the alliance. “I am confident that Mulayam Singh will not walk out of the alliance. No one should question his secular credential and he will not do anything to help the BJP,” said Sharad Yadav in Delhi during the day.
In the evening, he drove to Mulayam’s residence. What transpired between the two leaders was not known, but Sharad Yadav claimed that the alliance will remain intact. However, no SP leader has confirmed his claim.
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