The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Split threat after Janata reunion

New Delhi, Oct. 31: Barely 24 hours after the Samata Party merged into it, the Janata Dal (United) appeared headed for another split, in true Janata parivar tradition.

Dal (United) rebel Devendra Prasad Yadav dubbed the move “illegal” and said: “The merger is undemocratic and violative of the party constitution.”

Threatening legal action against the “drawing room decision”, the MP added he would not allow the “two non-resident (Bihar) leaders (George Fernandes and Sharad Yadav)” to treat the party like a private company. Devendra Prasad, however, did not spell out the proposed action.

Hinting at the likelihood of a split, he said he was waiting for the leaders to announce the date of the national council meeting.

A future strategy would be evolved after discussions with Bihar MPs and MLAs whose support Devendra Prasad claimed to have. Most of them were in their hometown for chhat puja, he said.

The merger, Devendra Prasad alleged, was aimed at saffronising the Dal (United) which, unlike the Samata, had always stridently opposed the BJP agenda both inside and outside Parliament — “whether it is Ayodhya, Gujarat, disinvestment or farmers’ plight”. He described the arrangement between Fernandes and Sharad Yadav as “an exchange of power between non-resident leaders”. It was a “gimmick of (a) merger which would fall apart sooner than later”, he said.

Policy decisions, Devendra Prasad emphasised, are first discussed at the party’s national executive and then passed by the national council with two-thirds majority, according to Article 32 of the party constitution. The decision on reunification should have followed the same process, he said.

Dal (United) general secretary K.C. Tyagi, who is a confidant of former party chief Sharad Yadav, said the reunited party was not bothered about Devendra Prasad. “Let him leave the party, go where he Laloo Prasad Yadav or the Congress. The Samata merged into the JD(U) and it has become a big party now, and as a Janata Dal activist, he should be happy,” Tyagi said.

The national council meeting, he added, would be held in the first week of December where the merger would be ratified. Party leaders will be busy this month with the Assembly elections, Tyagi said.

A senior Dal (United) leader berated Devendra Prasad’s “abject indifference” towards the party. He never bothered to attend any party meeting in the last two-and-a-half years and disciplinary action against him was pending for flouting the party whip during a Lok Sabha debate on the Gujarat carnage, the leader added.

Devendra Prasad and Shashi Kumar, another party MP — from Karnataka — opposed to the merger, were unlikely to sign the merger resolution making a split inevitable, sources said. The Dal (United) brass, however, could pre-empt it by suspending them, they said.

Both the Congress and Laloo Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal are wooing Devendra Prasad while Shashi Kumar is all set to join H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular).

Another MP who may join the Dal (Secular) is Ramesh Jigjinagi, a Karnataka legislator of Janata Dal vintage. Fernandes and Sharad Yadav, however, are wooing Jigjinagi, who is now with the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan.

But the reunified 18-member Dal (United) can hope for three MPs from the RJD (Democratic), four rebels from the Biju Janata Dal and one from the LJP’s breakaway faction, boosting the party’s strength to 26, sources said.

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