By Upendra Prasad
Stung by the results of the last Lok Sabha elections and buoyed by the success in some of the by-elections held after that, leaders of some regional parties formed by the splinters of erstwhile Janata Dal have started talking of the unity of Janata Parivar. Janata Dal leader Nitish Kumar is leading this “Unite Parivar” campaign and he has succeeded in Bihar by forging an alliance with RJD of Lalu Yadav and defeating BJP in most of the Assembly Constituencies, where by-elections were held a couple of months ago. After the success Nitish Kumar is eyeing at other states. He has approached Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ajit Singh of Uttar Pradesh, Om Prakash Chautala of Haryana, MP Virendra Kumar of Kerala and HD Deve Gowda of Karnataka. Naveen Patnaiak of Odisha has also been reached, but he is reluctant to join such unification campaign as yet, but had sent one of his party subordinates as his representative in one of meetings held before Lok Sabha elections only to test the depth of water, but he has not shown any interest in joining the present move of leaders from Bihar.
Leaders campaigning for the unification are trying to give an ideological color to their move, but it is crystal clear that they are trying to forge unity only to save their political career and maintain their bargaining power in politics. They are projecting Bhartiya Janata Party as their enemy, but it is ironical that other than Lalu and Mulayam, all Janata Dal splinters have joined hands with the saffron party to taste power at some time or another after the demolition of Babri Mosque. Before Babri demolition, even Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Yadav were sworn in as the Chief Minister of their respective states with the support of BJP.
Om Prakash Chautala, Ajit Singh, Nitish Kumar, HD Deve Gowda and Naveen Patnaik – all had alliance with the saffron party for sharing power in the past. Their decision to join hands was not based on any ideology, rather it was guided by their hunger for power. Similarly their move to unite again is not guided by any ideology, rather their attempt to save their political carrier and remain relevant in politics.
The whole political scenario of the country has undergone a fundamental change and the old political tantrums are not working. Though BJP is in power, but it is not because of its old Ram Temple politics. Its communal politics centered around the so called “love jihad” has been rejected in Uttar Pradesh by-elections, proved that even the communal politics has lost its appeal. Mobile and internet revolution along with the urbanization is influencing the politics of India in a big way and the Janata Dal leaders are known to have prospered on the rural caste conflicts. With the urbanization the political thinking of their supporting classes is also changing and in this era , the leaders of erstwhile Janata Dal are trying to repeat the period of pre Mobile and pre Internet revolution and they are most likely to fail in their mission.
Leaders trying to unify Janata Parivar are of advanced age and hence at the end of their political career. The emergence of Narendra Modi has dealt a body blow to them, because Modi belongs to a subaltern caste with a subaltern family and personal background selling tea at a Railway Station and trains. The Janata Dal leaders have lost their charisma among their supporting classes because they failed to fulfill their aspirations. While Narendra Modi is untested for them and moreover, Modi has not aroused their caste aspirations. He only claims to be one among them vying for the development of all with the support of all. In this way, Narendra Modi has outwitted the subaltern leaders of Janata parivar and now they are desperate to join hands among themselves to evolve a solid caste equation backed by Muslim support to counter Narendra Modi.
If we give a close look at the leaders championing the cause of unification, the leaders with uncertain future are more vocal. Those leaders, who are still confidant of their safe future, are not showing any desperation. For example, Naveen Patnaik does not bother about the unification. He is a winner in Odisha and is going to complete record 20 years heading the government of his state. Mulayam Singh is another example. Though, his party was routed in the last Lok Sabha elections, his all family members including himself won. Moreover, his party won the by-elections with handsome margins. That is why he, too, is not giving much importance to the unity talk, although, if he is made the leader of the unification, he will not mind joining it.
Take the example of Ajit Singh. He was part of all the formations to be a part in the government and now out of Parliament and government bungalow he has become the champion of Janata Dal unification, but he was the first after the demolition of Babri Mosque to leave Janata Dal to help Narasimha Rao government to continue in power. Nitish Kumar had followed him splitting and making yet another splinter party only because Lalu Yadav had stopped sharing power with him as Chief Minister of Bihar.
Lalu himself had deserted his Janata Dal, when it became clear that he was losing the Presidential election of the Dal and formed Rashtriya Janata Dal. Then came the turn of Naveen Patnaiak. He wanted to join hands with BJP in 1998 elections and left the Dal to form his own Biju Janata Dal. Before 1999 Lok Saba election, Janata Dal decided to join hands with BJP and Deve Gowda protested. This split caused the loss of name Janata Dal and the Dal aligned to BJP was named JD (U) and the Dal against BJP was named JD(S). Ironically JD(S), too, joined hands with BJP to taste fruit of power in Karnataka and it caused another split by MP Virendra Kumar forming his own outfit in Kerala.
So it was the hunger of more power, which was the guiding force to split Janata Dal. Now again it is the hunger of power, which is propelling them to go for unity. Problem for them is that they have got weakened in their home turf and joining hands with leaders far from their home turfs is not going to help them increase their vote base. Campaign of Nitish in Haryana does not carry any meaning for Chautala. Similarly, campaign of Ajit Singh in Bihar will not help Lalu and Nitish. Deve Gowda does not carry any political weight outside his state. Hence, even if they are unified, they are not going make much difference in the political landscape of the country. (IPA Service)