NEW DELHI: The old warriors are back on the road. India’s oldest non-Congress ‘opposition force’ — the Janata Parivar — on Monday put up a show of its newfound unity efforts in a direct offensive against the BJP-led government. The venue was New Delhi’s allotted space for dissent: Jantar Mantar. A short walk from Parliament where raucous protests disrupted the proceedings of the Winter session’s penultimate day, the old socialists used the occasion to articulate the various strands of dissent building up against the NDA government. The “unkept promises” on black money was a prominent theme, as was the more recent controversy on conversions.
Images of stalwarts like Lalu Prasad Yadav regaling the crowds leaped out, offering the defining image of the day against which even the legislative logjam in the two Houses was discussed. On the ground it was a carnival-like atmosphere and the crowds brought in from UP mirrored those in the front and the centre of the stage: the Samajwadi Party leadership.
Lalu Prasad embraced his Yadav brethren Mulayam Singh — “in your leadership, we shall fight” — Nitish Kumar, Deve Gowda, Dushant Chautala, Kamal Morarka even Tariq Anwar and D P Tripathi of NCP and others clapped.
Mamata Banerjee sent a letter of support through her new star performer, MP Derek O’Brien. He was not at the venue though. Everyone in the Janata Parivar was ready for a merger, sinking “old prejudices” to make a fresh start — the “first solid step” with “new script” in hand. Most them former CMs or from their clans, were joining hands in the hope of stalling Narendra Modi’s victory march in elections, just the way their “united” efforts stalled Parliament. They mocked Modi for “not fulfilling” his poll promises.