NEW DELHI: While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a whirlwind campaign tour of Haryana and Maharashtra addressing multiple rallies and the Congress is trying hard to retain its hold over the two states, the politicians from the post-Mandal era are quietly reaching out to one another.
Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad, Chautalas and Mulayam Singh Yadav, politicians or regional satraps who had ushered in an era of coalition politics in the nineties and thrived on it for the next two decades, often dominating the Delhi durbar, are now trying to fill up the cracks in the old Janata Parivar.
Though it could be their way of not getting swamped by the Modi phenomenon, their moves are making the Congress equally jittery. For it was not just that JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav was sharing the dais with Mulayam at the Samjawadi Party conclave in Lucknow, but former Bihar CM Nitish Kumar going to campaign for INLD/Chautala in Haryana.
Nitish and Lalu’s coming together burying years of bitterness that had broken their relationship and the Janata Parivar, saw some success in the recent Bihar by-elections. Nitish could be aiming for a repeat of the same magic for the INLD in Haryana. Like Lalu, Om Prakash Chautala is virtually fighting the polls from jail.
Meanwhile, the SP supremo too seems to be warming up to a ‘Mandalite’ reunion. The impressive showing in the UP bypoll has given Mulayam some hope of recovery. So while he was getting re-elected as his party’s chief yet again, Mulayam shared the dais with Sharad. On his part, Sharad did everything to fuel speculation of an alliance, without a formal commitment. He said with a touch of flamboyance that Mulayam had always been “good friends” and he had come to attend the convention on the SP supremo’s invitation. “We have been together since early days.
The Constitution has been dealt a severe blow in the present conditions. We have to save it,” the JD(U) leader told reporters at the start of the three-day Samajwadi Party convention. He had recently made it clear that he would make efforts to “bring together all those, who were part of old Janata Parivar to fight the new political challenge”.
While in Bihar, arch rivals, the RJD and JD(U), both offshoots of the Janata Dal Parivar, have already joined hands to form an alliance.
In Kerala, Socialist Janata (Democratic) Party, headed by former Union Minister M P Veerendra Kumar, too decided to merge with the Janata Dal (United) in September.
Efforts are also on to bring on board splinter groups which are politically significant in the other states. The unity drive in the erstwhile Janata Parivar has come after Modi juggernaut crushed the Janata Dal (United) in the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar with the BJP-led combine winning 31 of 40 seats in the state.
There are indications of the rise of the BJP in Kerala, Assam and West Bengal, the states where the saffron party is yet to gain a foothold.