NEW DELHI: Taken aback by the surprise exit of Samajwadi Party from Bihar's anti-BJP coalition, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad today met Mulayam Singh Yadav to salvage the alliance but failed to get any assurance from the SP supremo.
JD(U) and RJD scrambled to rescue the 'grand alliance' after Samajwadi Party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav's sudden announcement in Lucknow yesterday that his party was walking out of it as it felt "humiliated" after not being consulted by larger partners in the state over seat sharing.
"Talks are on. Talks will continue. The entire 200 seats (100 each of RJD and JD-U) belong to Netaji (Mulayam) and Samajwadi Party. When came together, a message went in the country that we will defeat the BJP. "He (Mulayam) is our guardian. He has all the more responsiblity to ensure this (that the alliance continues).
Communalism is a threat to the country. Everyone wants to finish it. We have told Netaji to reconsider it so that a socialist and secular govement is formed in Bihar," Lalu, who rushed to Delhi from Patna for the rescue job, told reporters after a two-hour meeting with Mulayam where Sharad Yadav was also present.
Lalu, whose daughter is married to the SP chief's grand nephew, also referred to his personal relationship with Mulayam, saying he has "all the rights" to prevail upon him. While there was no word from the SP following the meeting, JD-U President put up a brave face saying "everything will be settled".
"Talks are on. You will get some good news in a day or two. This has nothing to do with seats. There are some internal matters which are not to be discussed with the media," Yadav, who had met Mulayam yesterday also to try and persuade him to continue in the anti-BJP front, said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, SP leaders said Mulayam was not comfortable with being seen in the company of Congress, a rival in politics of Uttar Pradesh where JD(U) or RJD have hardly any stakes. Being seen with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at election rallies would not go down well with SP supporters, they said.
The Samajwadi Party chief was also roundly criticised by Sonia for pushing for smooth functioning of Parliament when Congress had repeately stalled the proceedings over Lalit Modi controversy, land bill and the Vyapam scam.
The RJD chief said something has "hurt" Mulayam and expressed confidence that the matter will be sorted out. "Bihar is an opportunity for Janata Parivar to prove its strength. He has been hurt due to some reasons and decided to come out (of the alliance). He has played a key role in bringing together all the constituents of the Janata Parivar.
This is an election important not only for Bihar but for the entire country. "The country is facing a crisis because of communalism. Each individual has a role in this fight. We told Netaji that if elections are being held today in Bihar, it will be held in Uttar Pradesh next year. We have fight them together," Prasad said.
Back in Patna, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also exuded confidence that the issue would be resolved and SP would return to the secular grouping.
"We are trying to figure out as to what happened that SP took the decision to quit the grand secular alliance," he told reporters. Sharad Yadav said there was no discussion on seat sharing during the meeting with Mulayam today. "We discussed how to strengthen the alliance...We did not have any discussion on seat sharing today. That is not an issue with Mulayam Singh ji. The alliance existed earlier, it exist now and will remain in future." SP was reportedly peeved at being allotted just 5 seats in the 243-member assembly by the major partners in the coalition. The decision to walk out of the alliance was taken at a meeting of SP parliamentary board in the presence Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had brokered peace between Nitish Kumar and Lalu and succeeded in persuading the latter to accept the Bihar Chief Minister as the secular alliance's chief ministerial candidate.
Yesterday's development may also put into jeopardy the proposed merger of six splintered parties of the erstwhile Janata Parivar into one political entity. These parties-- SP, RJD, JD(U), JD(S), INLD and Samajwadi Janata Party--had in April this year announced a merger, which they had said, would be formalised after the Bihar elections. The development, coming weeks ahead of the high-stakes electoral battle may split the secular votes being eyed by the JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine.