JANATA DAL: 1988 TO 2015 – THE STORY REMAINS THE SAME

After much downs and few ups, six factions of the erstwhile ‘Janata Dal’ or evergreen ‘Janata Parivar’ came together to save India’s secular fabric – at least that is what they had claim.

And in process, they thought, they could make a front to revive their dwindling political futures.

But they could not or did not deliberate on ‘state Vs national’ aspect of their ‘coming together’.

Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Janata Dal (United) in Bihar are fighting to win the upcoming elections in their respective states.

An assembly election loss, after a humiliating show in the Lok Sabha polls last year, would be a heavy burden for Samajwadi Party to bear. The party may not recover from it. Losing assembly polls in Bihar, after complete decimation in the Lok Sabha polls, will make Nitish Kumar and Janata Dal (United), irrelevant in national and state politics.

Rashtriya Janata Dal, after Lalu Yadav’s conviction in fodder scam, is fighting a battle that he has already lost. An association with his corruption taint may be detrimental electorally. Samajwadi Janata Party exists only in three words, literally. Janata Dal (Secular) is losing its appeal in Karnataka.

The family head of the family show, Indian National Lok Dal, has been jailed for 10 years in a corruption case and his party failed to make any mark in the Lok Sabha as well as in the assembly polls.

And these six parties came together to form a combined entity together.

But it was an alliance of political opportunism with no political pragmatism.

Primary issues, potent enough to derail the process, like name, symbol and main party office of the new political entity were not worked out. And they remain elusive.

On ground, four of these parties have no or very less political currency left. RJD may work some political miracle given the prominence of ‘caste factor’ in the Bihar polls, but even that is not possible for others of the lot.

SP and JD(U) are restricted to UP and Bihar only – in their respective states. And they are fighting battles of political survival in retaining these states.

So, there is no conflict of interest – at least politically. SP can help JD(U) and RJD in Bihar and these two parties can do the same for SP in UP. But that needs prior understanding, that wasn’t tried to work out before the ‘grand Janata Parivar merger’ was announced.

After he left Congress, Vishwanath Pratap Singh had formed Janata Dal in 1988 to extend his political interests and as there was no ideology behind the move but a political purpose to somehow form the government, the party started witnessing splits fuelled by political ambitions.

It was Chandra Shekhar’s prime-ministerial ambition behind emergence of Samajwadi Janata Party or Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regional ambitions behind SP. Then Nitish Kumar and George Fernandes walked out with Samta Party. Lalu Yadav did his part by forming RJD in 1997. Om Prakash Chautala started his political family with Indian National Lok Dal. Nitish Kumar had one more split when he split Samta Party and formed Janata Dal (United) in 2003. Then there are more.

Since its formation, if Janata Dal has anything constant to talk about, it is its split after split at regular intervals – over a dozen and counting – splits fuelled by political ambitions.

Though Mulayam Singh Yadav has not walked out of the ‘reunited but still unnamed Janata Parivar’, he has clearly left the two parties of the new entity in Bihar. As told, he is feeling insulted and humiliated over the treatment meted out to his party in Bihar – by the political brethren of his ‘reunited Janata Parivar’.

But the real reason lies in securing the regional power centers first. The leverage that the combined entity can give in national politics comes later. If there is no regional political currency left, thinking of being a force at the national level will be nothing more than daydreaming.

UP being SP’s only power corridor, it needs to save it first, pooling and exhausting all resources to fight the wave of huge anti-incumbency to win the 2017 assembly polls. And it would avoid embarrassing and electorally sensitive elements like aligning with Lalu Yadav and Congress, the party that is its opponent in the state.

So, it was a ‘decision as per the political norms’ when he decided to walk out of the alliance in Bihar. In fact, by doing so, he can reap the benefit in a better way. SP has always been non-existent in Bihar. So, it doesn’t take the state seriously. Now, if the election returns, somehow, with better results this time, with the party again fighting on all seats, it would be a talking point for the UP assembly polls. After all, Mulayam can think of cornering some of Yadav and Muslim votes there – with increasing political isolation of Lalu Yadav (and Nitish would not like to see a politically stronger Mulayam Singh Yadav in Bihar).

Now, it is to be seen whether Sharad Yadav and Lalu Yadav become successful in brining Mulayam back into the alliance – as they are claiming.

But the development has clearly indicated one thing – and again – that Janata Dal was a loose amalgamation of different political groups which had come together to get into the power corridors and it had no ideology of its own – and every ‘satrap’ kept his political interests before the interest of combined entity. That led to its premature or early death.

In 1988, it was in the name of opposing Congress. In 2015, it is in the name of stopping BJP. In 1988, it had a combined identity, a name and symbol. In 2015, the ‘merged’ parties are still fighting elections as separate parties. In 1988, there was no political ideology to back the formation of Janata Dal. In 2015, the story remains the same.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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