Regional parties again seek to form '3rd front' in Delhi meet

The once-firebrand 'Young Turks' of India's socialist movement, who fell apart more than two decades ago, are set to re-unite as a family of ageing warriors in yet another attempt to create a 'third front' to counter the Congress and the BJP.

The process begins with a conclave huddle in Delhi today that is expected to be attended by Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal, , H D Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular), and Om Prakash Chautala's INLD.

If ego problems and political differences can be resolved, there will emerge a new 'third front' under the leadership of former wrestler and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Obviously, it is these parties' diminishing political fortunes amid the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party that is driving them to paper over their differences and present a common front.

The new entity could be named the Samajwadi Janata Dal.

Given the SP's better electoral credentials, being in power in Uttar Pradesh and also having the most MPs in Parliament among the lot, it is likely that Mulayam Singh will be asked to lead the new party in the making.

''However, a mechanism for collective leadership will also be worked out,'' sources said.

''The JD (U) is hopeful and keen on a merger of our parties. It is time for us to come together and jointly confront the challenges facing the country,'' former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar told Hindustan Times.

The Janata parivar (family) merger should be seen as the first step in the direction of consolidating secular forces. Other like-minded parties could join at a later stage. Even the Congress and the Left parties are likely to support this secular formation,'' said JD (U) spokesperson K C Tyagi.

After the luncheon meeting at the SP leader's residence, leaders of the fledgling group are likely to announce a joint campaign to highlight ''failures of the NDA government'' on issues including black money, unemployment and farmers' problems.

Senior BJP leader and environment minister Prakash Javadekar said that in a democracy, all political groupings had a right to come together or split. ''But the Janata parivar DNA dictates that they come together and split again,'' he said.

Senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed remarked, ''Old socialists are known for their typical characters. They cannot live without each other for a long time. But they also cannot live together for more than one year.''