The suspense is still on whether the incumbent Samajwadi Party will weave a large coalition on the lines of highly successful Mahagathbandhan or ‘Grand Alliance’ in Bihar, where RJD-JDU-Congress combine had trounced BJP-led NDA with a three-fold margin last year.
As the date to assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh nears, erstwhile Janta parivaar leaders assembled at to celebrate silver jubilee of SP in Lucknow.
Was it just a mere optic? Perhaps, the days to come will itself articulate the power equations and shape any arrangement, if that may be called coalition. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, former PM and JD(S) patriarch HD Devegowda, INLD leader Abhay Chautala among others shared stage with SP’s top leadership.
While Lalu made a call to “strengthen” Samajwadi Party to “chase away” the BJP, Devegowda urged the Janta Parivar leaders to “come together” to fight communal forces.
Though the former Union minister and two-time Bihar CM kept away from elaborating how to “strengthen” the incumbent Samajwadi Party, he stressed “We have chased away BJP in Bihar”.
Lalu’s RJD was the big winner in the last year’s assembly polls when the Grand Alliance had sprinted home with 178 seats. Beaten and defeated BJP-led NDA coalition could only manage 58 seats. RJD emerged as the single largest party with 80 seats, while CM Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) bagged 71 seats.
However, another guest in the grand ceremony, former Prime Minister HD Devegowda, under whom Mulayam had served as the Defence minister, went on to say few steps further.
“I strongly believe the secular forces will come together under the leadership of Mulayam,” he said expressing hope that SP would win the polls. “Polls in UP will set the agenda for India’s future and SP will win UP polls under Mulayam,” he further underlined.
Meanwhile, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav dropped caution and said they have come to attend the SP function as they have “old relations” with SP.
“There are no talks of coalition now. Mulayam Singh Yadav can tell better. SP is the bigger party here. Talking much on this will not be appropriate at this time,” he said.
Earlier, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, who didn’t attend the event due to Chhat Puja in Bihar, played down speculations of any alliance.
“The SP programme is for the celebration of its 25th foundation day. It should not be seen as a prelude to any alliance (for the UP Assembly election),” he had told the press on Friday.