Mahagathbandhan 2.0: Are Nitish Kumar & Prashant Kishor working to form a party before 2019 polls?
Nitish Kumar's national ambition is hardly a secret. The Bihar chief minister has already started chalking out a strategy to challenge Narendra Modi in the next general elections.
According to sources, Nitish Kumar is trying to float a new political party at the national level before the 2019 polls. Prashant Kishor, the election strategist who played an instrumental role in the grand alliance victory in state elections, is reportedly helping Nitish in the cause.
Sources also claim that Nitish Kumar discussed the idea with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) leader Babu Lal Marandi in a meeting held recently at Sharad Yadav's Delhi residence.
Prashant Kishor also reportedly took time out from his busy schedule of Congress' election campaign in UP to participate in the meeting.
A consensus has emerged in the meeting for the merger of RLD, JVM and Janata Dal United - JD(U) - if the sources are to be believed. A formal announcement in this regard could be made after the UP elections are over. Some other regional parties could also be roped in at a later stage.
Several names for the proposed party have been pitched, claim JD(U) insiders. However, the leaders seem to be agreeing on christening the party as Jan Vikas Dal.
Nitish Kumar's declaration of an election alliance with RLD for UP polls during the latter's rally in Baghpat's Baraut last Tuesday is also being seen as a part of the same strategy.
The alliance has projected Ajit Singh's son Jayant Chaudhary as its chief ministerial candidate.
The failed experiment with Mulayam Singh
Nitish had toyed with the idea of uniting parties belonging to the former Janata Dal before the Bihar elections. Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav was pitched as the leader of the broad amalgam that was to include RLD, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Janata Dal Secular - JD(S) - and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) besides SP and JD(U).
However, the effort fell on its face after Mulayam Singh backtracked at the last moment. JD(U) chose to forge a grand alliance with RJD and Congress instead and managed to hand a humiliating defeat to the BJP in Bihar.
Nitish wants to repeat the same historic victory at the national level by bringing together like-minded parties and appears to have succeeded in convincing Ajit Singh and Babu Lal Marandi, at least for now.
Sources say Prashant Kishor might be busy bolstering the Congress chances in UP, for now, but he is quite interested and sparing time for Nitish Kumar's Mission 2019.
Consultations are reportedly continuing over the election symbol of the new party. Among the options being considered are the wheel, tree and a farmer carrying a plough.
The wheel was Janata Dal's election symbol before it split into several regional parties. The farmer with a plough represented the erstwhile Janata Party in the decade of 70s. Both the symbols are a reminder of the Janata Dal legacy in many ways. Nitish Kumar and Prashant Kishor believe the proposed party would be able to revive that legacy in 2019.
Any political outfit is recognised as a national party under three conditions;
It wins 11 seats (2% seats) in the Lok Sabha from at least three different states in the latest general elections.
The party secures 6% of the total valid votes in at least four states in an election to the Lok Sabha or State Assembly. This is in addition to winning four Lok Sabha seats.
The party is recognised as a state party in at least four states.
The performance of the three probable constituents of the proposed party in the respective latest Assembly polls is as follows:
Edited by Jhinuk Sen