New Delhi: After months of deliberations, six constituents of the erstwhile Janata Party, collectively referred as the 'Janata Parivar', announced their merger into a single entity on Wednesday to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP. However, they are yet to decide on a name and electoral symbol.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party is one of the merged entities, is the president of the new party.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called it a temporary alliance of political warlords, the Congress said it had taken no decision so far on joining hands with the new party for the forthcoming assembly elections in Bihar.
The announcement of merger was made at a joint press conference by JD-U chief Sharad Yadav, who said a decision on the name, policy, flag and other issues has been entrusted to a committee comprising Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Lalu Prasad (RJD), H.D. Deve Gowda (JD-S) and Kamal Morarka (Samajwadi Janata Party-Rashtriya).
The decision was announced after a meeting of leaders from Janata Dal-United, Janata Dal-Secular, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party, apart from the Samajwadi Party, at the residence of Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Sharad Yadav said: "The six parties have unanimously decided to form a new party. Mulayam Singh Yadav will be president of the new party. He will also be chairman of the parliamentary board."
"We are ready to face the challenge which the nation faces today," said Yadav.
The joint press conference was addressed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad, H.D. Deve Gowda and INLD leader Abhay Chautala.
As the entity focused on showing the BJP the door, starting with the Bihar assembly polls, BJP spokesperson M.J. Akbar called it a "confederation of political warlords".
"It is a temporary alliance of political warlords, who think elections are determined not on the basis of governance, but on the basis of barren (electoral) mathematics. As Amit Shahji has said, zero plus zero equals to zero," Akbar said in Kolkata.
Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said that INLD joining the front was a bit surprising as it supported Narendra Modi as prime minister before the general elections last year.
"It's a bit surprising for us as INLD had announced its support for Modi," he said, adding that the Congress would decide it later whether it could get into any alliance with the new party.
"We are different, they are different, joining or not joining hands with them would be decided later," the Congress leader said.
Challenging BJP which is in power at the Center, Lalu Prasad challenged it to a "new fight".
"We have garlanded Mulayam Singh to fight against the communal powers that have cheated their way to power. We have sacrificed our identities to come together and chase the BJP out," said the former Bihar chief minister, who also served as the railway minister at the centre.
He said the Bihar assembly elections later this year will be the first lesson for the BJP.
"The reversal will start from Bihar... The whole nation is watching... we will throw them (BJP) out," he said.
Mulayam Singh Yadav said that Narendra Modi government was about to complete a year but had not performed "a single new task".
"They got a majority but they have not done a new thing so far. This is the first government which does not consult opposition on any issue," said the SP leader.
He also said that when he met Deve Gowda and later Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, they were "sad", but refused to elaborate.
Lalu Prasad however made it clear that there was no "ego clash" within the constituents, and all were together as the people wanted them to come together.