After tiff with Akhilesh, Shivpal looks for new friends

New Delhi: Concerned over the debilitating power struggle in Samajwadi Party, the Mulayam Singh Yadav- Shivpal Yadav camp today continued efforts to cobble together a grand alliance in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, with the latter meeting RLD chief Ajit Singh.

Shivpal, who heads the Uttar Pradesh unit of the party, called on Ajit Singh, whose Rashtriya Lok Dal has areas of influence in western parts of the state, apparently to invite him to SP’s silver jubilee celebrations on November 5.

The meeting came against the backdrop of talk of attempts at replicating Bihar’s grand alliance experiment in UP. Shivpal had recently pitched for coming together of ‘Lohiawadi’, ‘Charan Singhwadi’ and ‘Gandhiwadi’ forces to defeat the “communal” BJP in the assembly polls due early next year.

Samajwadi Party, which was initially part of Bihar’s grand alliance, had walked out of it after it was offered only a handful of seats to contest the assembly elections there. The grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress had, however, scripted a glorious electoral victory, defeating the BJP-led NDA. Shivpal had recently blamed his estranged cousin Ram Gopal Yadav for Samajwadi Party’s decision to walk out of the alliance in Bihar.

Ram Gopal, a Rajya Sabha member, has been backing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in his fight against Shivpal. Ram Gopal was recently sacked from the party amid escalating tension between the rival camps.

Given the unusual belligerence shown by Akhilesh Yadav, the party apparently wants to fortify its position by bringing in new friends.

Carrying an invitation from Mulayam, Shivpal has been meeting “socialist friends” in the national capital. On Wednesday, Shivpal had called up Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar and met senior leaders of the party Sharad Yadav and K C Tyagi.

Sources in the JD(U) and the SP said the idea behind the invite was to stitch up an alliance in Uttar Pradesh, where a resurgent BJP and Mayawati’s BSP look set to pose a tough challenge to the ruling party.

“I have come to invite Ajit Singh for SP’s foundation day. All secular parties do not want the BJP to enter Uttar Pradesh. It is an effort to bring together all Lohiawadis and Charanwadis. If it succeeds, we will stop the BJP (from coming to power),” Shivpal told reporters after meeting the RLD chief.

“RLD has welcomed the statement of Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav, calling for a coalition of parties against communal forces in Uttar Pradesh,” RLD general secretary Trilok Tyagi said, but added “no decision has been taken yet”.

Interestingly, RLD has already announced a coalition with Janata Dal (United), Sharad Pawar-led NCP and ex-BSP leader RK Chaudhary’s BS4 for the Uttar Pradesh polls.

The mega alliance has decided to project Ajit Singh’s son and former Mathura MP Jayant Chaudhary as its chief ministerial candidate.

Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief, who was one of the prime movers of the failed attempt at merger of six splintered ‘Janata Parivar’ outfits, has hinted at the possibility of the socialists coming together.

“A step was taken to form a strong party after merger of six erstwhile parties of the old Janata Parivar. To a great extent the progress was also achieved. Talks were progressing under the chairmanship of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, but did not succeed,” he told reporters in Patna.

“But, it will be wrong to assume that such efforts will not be made again or will not succeed in future,” he said.

Kumar, however, said he had not received any invitation so far for attending the Samajwadi Party’s silver jubilee celebrations.

Congress, which shares power with socialist parties like JD(U) and Lalu Prasad’s RJD in Bihar, was lukewarm to the idea of a grand alliance in UP ahead of the polls and even appeared ruling itself out of it, saying there was “no movement” forward and it had “no plans” of joining it.

“As of today, there is no grand alliance, neither is there any proposal, nor any such possibility or intention,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters in Delhi.

He was asked about the possibility of such an alliance in the wake of JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi three days ago and with party general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad yesterday.

Two days back, 17 Congress MLAs from UP had a meeting with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi where they conveyed to him that he should look at forming an alliance with the “secular forces” to fight the Assembly polls.