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The merger plans for the various socialist parties in India. On ?




The 2014 Lok Sabha elections literally terrified many parties in India. Besides the beating that the Congress got, sinking to an all time low figure of 44 seats, the apparently socialist parties that are present primarily in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were scared out of their wits. The public vote for the BJP and Narendra Modi swept away all who stood in front, with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh getting only 5 seats (all family members of Mulayam Singh Yadav), the BSP getting zero, and a similar situation in Bihar where the BJP swept away the RJD and the JD(U); even more painful for the JD(U) and Nitish Kumar, since he had a messy divorce with the BJP over the leadership of Narendra Modi. It was pretty clear that it was not just the Congress that was in mortal danger, these parties in fact had a restricted base and had to somehow stop the onslaught of the BJP. Now, the leadership of these parties are not dumb, and it was clear that they were a divided lot. The presence in the campaign of the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress as separate parties meant that a lot of their votes were getting split, and with the first-part-the-post system in India, the party that got a larger percentage of the votes would get more seats, and the BJP was way ahead of the other parties.
So, a simple question would be about why these parties were not having alliances with each other in order to checkmate the power of the BJP ? Well, because they did not expect that the BJP would be so attractive and get so many votes; and more important, the ego battles between the leaders of these parties was incredibly high. So, Laloo Prasad Yadav could never be on the same side as Nitish Kumar, with a high level of competition between them for votes almost from the same set of people. It is a measure of how scared they got from the win of the BJP that the parties finally decided to come together, ‘together we survive, separately we sink’. In the first set of bye-elections after the Lok Sabha polls, the parties had an understanding for the various seats, and gave a most creditable performance, managing to beat the BJP for most of the seats.

This seems to have finally galvanized the parties to try and make a large alliance, across states. There are a total of 6 parties involved, but there are essentially only 3 who matter – the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, and the RJD and the JD(U) in Bihar. The parties realize that the SP in Uttar Pradesh is the largest of the lot, the one which is in power in a large state without any problems of majority or support, and hence the declaration that Mulayam Singh Yadav would be the leader of the entire combination.
It has now been a few months, and yet, there is a lot of confusion over this entire merger plans. The Samajwadi Party seems to have realized that even though it is in need of support in Uttar Pradesh, none of the other parties are capable of providing any major kind of support in the state, and hence it seems to be slowly withdrawing from this merger plan (or rather, using any issue that it could get to slow down the merger). On the other side, the parties in Bihar seem to be totally for the plan, and want to ensure that the merger is going through. However, it is not going to be easy. The parties in Bihar, in the midst of discussion about the oncoming election in Bihar this year, are having heavy weather, since both have been beaten. While one party wants to ensure that the seat sharing arrangement happens on the basis of the last assembly elections, the other wants to use the Lok Sabha elections as the basis for seat allocation.
In the meantime, the SP is using the Election Commission as the front for delaying the merger talks, claiming that there is a lot of confusion about the allocation of the symbol to the combined entities. The leaders from the other parties want to use the election symbol of the Samajwadi Party as their common symbol while the party leaders are expressing concern that the merger talks will create problems in the symbol, and would rather atleast would want to delay the actual merger till the Bihar elections where a pre-poll alliance could take the place of the merger.




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