The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sharad paves path for merger

New Delhi, Aug. 11: Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav today dissolved the party’s Karnataka unit, in a move that sources said was aimed at pre-empting unification with H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular).

The Dal (U) state unit had last week decided to merge with the former Prime Minister’s party. Yadav said a “handful” of leaders in Karnataka had taken the decision “without approval from the JD(U) leadership”.

Janata Dal (S) general secretary Danish Ali dismissed Yadav’s move to dissolve the state unit, saying it would have no impact. “When almost the entire JD(U) leadership and cadre are joining us, what is the use of dissolution now'” Ali asked.

The Dal (S) leader said other state units, barring the one in Bihar, would follow suit. As for the Bihar unit’s merger, Yadav would have to make up his mind.

Gowda and senior state Dal (U) leaders had on August 3 decided to merge their parties on August 16 to make the Janata Dal (S) strong enough to take on both the Congress and the BJP in the state.

Dal (S) sources said Yadav was acting under pressure from the BJP, which is jittery about the Dal parivar’s reunification under Gowda — a known critic of the National Democratic Alliance government — in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

The Union food and civil supplies minister, they said, is worried about his electoral prospects in Bihar and needs the support of the BJP-Samata Party or Laloo Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal to win from the state.

The Dal (U)’s strength in the Lok Sabha was reduced to five members — four from Bihar and one from Karnataka — after Ram Vilas Paswan broke away to form his Lok Janshakti Party two years ago. Sources said Gowda had, as a pre-condition, insisted that Yadav quit the NDA before the merger.

But the latter declined, as he was willing to consider this option on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections, and not now. But senior state leaders and the cadre were not willing to wait that long.

Yadav slammed the merger decision by Karnataka unit chief . Thippanna and party leader P.G.R. Scindhia as “illegal”. “The JD(U) has a distinct identity. It cannot give up its identity as it is an old party in Karnataka and has a bright future,” he said.

The minister added: “It has come to my notice that the Karnataka state unit has not been functioning according to the provisions of the constitution of the Janata Dal (United) and the rules thereunder.”

Yadav has appointed B. Shreepathy Rao as the new convener of the Dal (U) and said new office-bearers and committees would be set up in due course.

The merger decision has left senior Dal (U) leader and former Union minister Ramakrishna Hegde worried as he fears that he could be marginalised by Gowda.

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