Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar will attend the silver jubilee celebrations of the Samajwadi Party in Lucknow on Saturday, The Indian Express reported. Kumar decided to attend the event – where the JD(U) was previously being represented by senior leader Sharad Yadav – after a phone call with SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, according to the report on Friday.
The JD(U) said that the party took the decision after consulting with the Rashtriya Lok Dal, its alliance partner in Uttar Pradesh. JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi said the Bihar chief minister was a “pioneer in making efforts to bring non-Bharatiya Janata Party” political organisations together. “How can we stay behind when socialists are gathering in Lucknow?” he said.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, who will also attend the function, said the SP had only issued its invitation for its foundation day function and that there would be no discussion of any alliance for the Uttar Pradesh election. Regarding a possible alliance, Tyagi said the JD(U) would “respond positively” if the SP made such a move. “Mulayam Singh Yadav should take initiative in this direction,” he said, adding that the JD(U) would contest the UP elections even if there was no alliance. Earlier, it was reported that Kumar would not attend the event citing personal reasons.
Apart from Kumar and Lalu, the event is expected to be attended by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, RLD chief Ajit Singh, Indian National Lok Dal leader AS Chautala and SP leaders including Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Earlier, there was some speculation on whether Akhilesh would attend the event because of the party’s Vikas Rath Yatra, which was launched on Thursday. Reports suggested that Akhilesh’s absence at the silver jubilee function would be another sign of a rift between him and his uncle, Samajwadi Party state president Shivpal Yadav.
In October, Shivpal Yadav has said his party would “not let communal forces succeed” in Uttar Pradesh. Shivpal said they would “bring all Lohiawadi, Chaudhary Charan Singhwadi and Gandhiwadi parties together to stop communal forces”. He held talks on possible alliances with the leaders of other parties, with reports suggesting that the SP was in touch with the Congress as well.
The party has been attempting to project a show of unity following infighting, which began after Shivpal was appointed the state chief in September. The move, which was reportedly implemented because of fears of an anti-incumbency vote, did not go down well with Akhilesh Yadav, who then relieved his uncle of major portfolios in the Cabinet. Mulayam Singh Yadav had to intervene to bring the situation under control. The chief minister’s supporters are reportedly functioning independently from a separate office in Lucknow.