Six Indian Regional Parties to Unite to Counter Modi’s Influence

Six Indian regional parties intend to merge to counter the growing influence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party rules the nation’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, has been authorized to work toward the merger, Nitish Kumar, leader of the Janata Dal (United), told reporters in New Delhi today. The grouping comprises entities formed over two decades following the breakup of a socialist party.

“In today’s political context, the opposition should be strong and they should be the voice of the people,” Kumar said. The parties will work as a bloc in parliament and will “question” the government regarding fulfilment of its campaign promises, he said.

Together they can frustrate Modi’s attempts to push bills through the upper house of parliament, the only legislative body where the BJP doesn’t hold a majority. The group holds 15 seats in the 545-member lower house and 30 seats in the 245-member upper house.

“These leaders are joining hands to counter the rise of the BJP under Modi and to keep themselves politically relevant,” said Satish Misra, analyst at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “While they are trying to set aside their egos, how long they will stay united is in doubt.”

Kumar’s party, which rules the third-most populous state of Bihar, severed ties with the BJP-led coalition in June 2013 amid Modi’s growing clout. Together with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal it wields influence in the eastern state, which is due for polls next year.

Other parties in the grouping are former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular), Indian National Lok Dal and Samajwadi Janata Party.

Modi’s BJP, which won federal elections in May with the strongest mandate in three decades on the promise of development, has since won the most seats in two subsequent state polls.

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