Patna: With uncertainty prevailing over 'Janata Parivar' constituents contesting the Bihar Assembly polls as one party,
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today asked Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to convene a meeting of the merger committee to "clear the air".
On his part, Kumar, however, said,"The chapter is still not closed."
Kumar told reporters he would suggest Mulayam Singh Yadav to convene a meeting of the merger committee soon to "clear the air and end the public debate over the matter."
The Bihar Chief Minister's advice to the SP supremo, who will be the leader of the proposed party after the merger, came against the backdrop of Samajwadi Party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav's recent statement that there was "no possibility" of the merger happening before the assembly polls.
"The merger is not possible before the Bihar election due to technicalities. If we merge in a hurry, it will be like
signing the death warrant of our party," he had said, in comments that were seen as reflecting the unease within the SP
over the merger.
Many in SP believe that it stands to gain nothing from the exercise that will only consolidate the bases of the two Bihar
outfits JD(U) and RJD to take on the BJP and its allies in the election which is likely in September-October this year.
Kumar said though he perceived no technical hitch, "but, if some technical issues have been raised as bottlenecks they
should be sorted out in a meeting of six members of the committee constituted in the last meeting to look into
formalities like a common symbol and flag etc".
Kumar brushed aside Ram Gopal Yadav's comments as being his "personal views" that were "advisory" in nature and not the "statement of his party".
He said JD(U) was committed to the merger and had no issues with the exercise.
"The merger is complete and Mulayam Singh Yadav has been declared its head ... There is no question of going back on it," he said. Notwithstanding Kumar's confidence about the merger materialising before the polls, RJD president Lalu Prasad's recent remarks regarding "technical" hurdles in the way have confounded the confusion.
"We are strong votary of merger of Janata Parivar... some serious technical issues have cropped up which we are trying
to sort out... but if this do not happen, we are prepared to fight election together," Prasad had said last week.
"Merger or alliance, our aim is to defeat BJP at any cost," the RJD chief said.
Reacting to Lalu's comments about an alliance between the two parties if not merger, Kumar said," He said if there is any technical issue ... First we have to discuss on technical bottlenecks and whether those can be resolved or not. Only
then alternatives can be talked about.
"First let the committee decide on technical problems due to which the merger cannot move further. Then other options
would be discussed," he said.
A major irritant in the merger is the conflicting claims of JD(U) and RJD over the number of seats each would contest.
Former Union Minister and a Lalu confidante Raghuvansh Prasad Singh had recently demanded 145 of state's 243 seats for his party.
"If we analyse our performance in Assembly segments as per the Lok Sabha results, we are in number one and two positions
in 145 seats, while JD(U) is number one and two only in 43 seats.
Nitish Kumar cannot cite the 2010 Assembly showing when he was part of NDA. We have all the reasons to contest more seats than JD (U)," Singh said.
When asked to comment on Singh's statement, a visibly annoyed Nitish had retorted: "Why only 145? The entire 243
seats are available."