Ajit Pauses Merger Talks, Keeps Nitish Guessing
There is nothing new to report on the merger. JD(U) seems to be doing all the talking: RLD insider
New Delhi: The Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)’s proposed merger efforts with Ajit Singh-led RLD appears to have hit an air pocket, with the latter evidently going slow on negotiations. This has given an impression to stakeholders that Singh will have to be first convinced about the political benefits of forgoing his party’s identity and helping Kumar.
A source said that as per original plan, the RLD leadership was to meet on April 6 to formally endorse the merger and a JD(U) meet on April 12 was to do the same to elect Kumar as party president. However, for unex- plained reasons RLD failed to hold the April 6 meeting, resulting in the JD(U) meeting limiting its agenda to electing Kumar as party president. Singh was not available when ET tried to contact him. However, according to an RLD insider, “there is nothing new to report on the merger. The JD(U) seems to be doing all the talking”, indicating negotiations slipping into a ‘freezer’. Incidentally, RLD is yet to publicly back Kumar’s call for an ‘anti-BJP/RSS’ national alliance of Opposition parties. It is believed Singh had three demands when Kumar broached the merger proposal: That he be made national president of the merged party, he get an upcoming Rajya Sabha seat from JD(U)’s Bihar kitty of two and his son Jayant be made the chief of the UP unit of the party.
“In western UP Ajit Singh has a base andherepresentsChowdharyCharan Singh’slegacy,whereasJD(U)isanonstarter in UP. So, it is important that themergershouldbringclearbenefits for RLD,” one of its leader said. Incidentally, 11 Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant in UP in July and the Congress is in a position to win a seat or help RLD win one, something which the BJP too can do. The JD(U) andKumar’sadvisorPrashantKishor areexpectedtoreachouttoRLDagain, even as Congress too has started coldshouldering Kumar’s call for an antiBJP/RSS national alliance.