Six political parties of the 'Janata parivar' (family) came together to present a united front against the Government in the Winter Session of Parliament and have not ruled out the possibility of a merger in the future to take on a resurgent BJP.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav hosted a lunch for leaders of five political parties -- JD(U), JD(S), INLD, SJP and RJD -- at his residence here.
JD(U) leaders Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda, INLD's Dushyant Chautala and SJP's Kamal Morarka attended the lunch.
Former Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told the media that the parties decided to unite to raise issues of public importance and speak in a common voice in Parliament.
Thanking Mulayam for the "initiative," he said the parties, which were part of the Janata parivar, decided to work together on the principle of unity.
Responding to volley of questions on the possible 'merger' to further their electoral prospects, Kumar did not rule out such a possibility. "The answer to this lies in the future. We can move towards one party (Hum ek party ki taraf badh sakte hain)," he said.
Though Mulayam was the host, he sent Kumar to brief the media on the lunch meeting. Mulayam's cousins Shivpal Singh and Ram Gopal and JD (U)'s K C Tyagi flanked Kumar during the briefing.
To a question why Congress, also an opposition party, was not invited, Kumar said they did not discuss Congress.
Asked why the Left was kept out of the deliberations, Kumar said political parties "who share our views on certain issues will be contacted. We are open to a dialogue."
Responding to a poser, Kumar said TMC chief Mamata Banerjee's role in the new grouping was also discussed but no decision was taken.
Incidentally, there was no representation from Ajit Singh's RLD which was once a part of the larger Janata family.
Kumar said while achieving total unity among the parties was a long drawn process, another meeting will be held in the coming days to chalk out programmes based on issues flagged by the leaders.
Attacking the BJP, he said while it had promised to bring back "every penny" of black money stashed abroad during Lok Sabha election campaign, the ruling party has taken a "U-turn" on the issue.
"We were told every Indian will get Rs 15 lakh once black money is brought back. Today we don't know the exact quantum of money stashed abroad," he said.
Kumar said the leaders have also decided to raise the issue of Minimum Support Price for farmers. "BJP had claimed that besides the input cost, it will give an additional 50 per cent to farmers as MSP. But the increase in MSP has been very little. Another issue is unemployment. They (BJP) said they would provide employment. But the fact is that there is a freeze in fresh appointments," Kumar said.
He said issues like Land Act and the Insurance Bill would be raised in one voice in both Houses of Parliament.
Today's meeting is an effort to create pressure on the Government or influence group of like-minded parties ahead of the Winter Session.
It is also being seen as an attempt by smaller parties to remain politically relevant after most of them had a poor show in the Lok Sabha elections.