JD (U) – RLD MERGER EYES ALLIANCE WITH CONGRESS IN UP

NEW DELHI (TIP): The forthcoming merger of Ajit Singh’s RLD with Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) is just the beginning of a larger experiment that may see the JD(U) and Congress trying to replicate a Bihar-like grand alliance in UP for the assembly elections next year, according to leaders involved in behind-the-scene strategising.

While RLD’s merger with JD(U) will lead to Singh occupying a senior position in the merged party at the national level, his son and former MP Jayant Chaudhary may be the UP unit president of the party, sources said. There are a number of political factors and interests that make the coming together of the merged JD(U) and Congress to form an alliance for UP poll inevitable.

Both parties recognise their mutual need to pool their resources to take on entrenched rivals such as the SP, BSP and BJP. Further, after SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav ‘spoiled’ the Janata Parivar merger attempts last year, Kumar, Singh and Congress share a political aversion to Yadav, who also fielded SP candidates against the grand alliance in Bihar.

Further, the traditional rivalry RLD and Congress share with BSP makes their coming together to form an anti-BJP platform inevitable, a source said. Incidentally, Kumar’s campaign strategist-turned-advisor Prashant Kishor is the campaign strategist of Congress in UP.

“The merger is meant to expand our party by reinforcing the combined interests of the two parties and position effectively in the UP polls by tapping the joint strength,” said Sharad Yadav, who is set to step down as JD(U) president. Explaining his decision to step down from the presidentship, Yadav said: “I have completed my third consecutive full term as JD(U) president. Last time the party constitution, which had fixed cap on two consecutive terms for party president, had to be amended to extend my term. I don’t want to amend the constitution again, therefore, have chosen to step down.

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