Janata Dal (United) is an Indian political party which was formed through the merger of one of the major Janata Party factions, the Lok Dal and a group of Indian National Congress members led by V.P. Singh. The mass base of the party has traditionally been Yadavs and Muslims, two large and relatively politically active segments of Bihar's population. Under the party's constitution, Janata Dal (U) is "dedicated to the task of building up a democratic secular and socialist State of India on Gandhian principles, inspiration from our rich heritage and the noble traditions of our struggle for national independence and individual liberty. The Party believes in a polity that ensures decentralization of economic and political power. It affirms the right of peaceful and democratic dissent, which includes satyagraha or non-violent resistance. The concept of a theocratic State is against the principles of Janata Dal (U) and no member of an organisation having faith in a theocratic State shall be a member of the Janata Dal."
This party comes in four flavors: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar and Jharkhand; Janata Dal (United) [JDU] in Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Nagaland; Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Orissa; and Janata Dal (Secular) [JDS] in Karnataka. In 2008, RJD received the status of recognised national-level party following its performance in north-eastern states. It held power in Bihar under the chief ministership of Laloo and then Rabri Devi, who is also Laloo's wife. The RJD was also a member of India's governing coalition led by the Congress.
The Election Commission determined on 29 July 2010 that the Rashtriya Janata Dal was no longer entitled to recognition as a National Party under the provisions of paragraphs 6B and 6C of the Symbols Order. Accordingly, the said Party was ordered to cease to be recognized as a National Party. The Party will, however, continue to be recognized as a State Party in the States of Bihar, Jharkhand and Manipur with the symbol “Hurricane Lamp” as its exclusively reserved symbol in the said States of Bihar, Jharkhand and Manipur. The Rashtriya Janata Dal’s performance at the general elections to the House of the People (2009) and Legislative Assemblies of the States of Bihar (2005), Manipur (2007), Nagaland (2008) and Jharkhand (2009) did not meet the requirements laid down for the continued recognition of the said party as a National Party.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal was founded in 1997 by Laloo Prasad Yadav. The party came about as a result of Lalu Prasad Yadav, ex-president of Janata Dal, being evicted by Sharad Yadav, the then president, on corruption charges ($250 million) over the farm support funds. The JD(S) traces its roots back to the Janata Party organized by Jayprakash Narayan that united all anti-Indira Gandhi parties under one banner for the 1977 national elections. The Janata Dal was formed in Bangalore with the merger of the Janata Party with smaller opposition parties in 1988. In 1996, the party reached its pinnacle when Shri H.D. Deve Gowda became Prime Minister of India, heading the United Front (UF) coalition government.
Just as key defections from the Congress were essential to the Janata electoral success in 1977, so too did V.P. Singh's defection from the Congress (I) in 1987 enable opposition factions from the Janata Party and Bharatiya Lok Dal to unite the Janata Dal in 1988. Regional parties, such as the Telugu Desam Party (Telugu National Party), the DMK, and the Asom Gana Pa-rishad (AGP--Assam People's Assembly), together formed the National Front, led by Janata Dal, which defeated Rajiv Gandhi's Congress (I) in the 1989 parliamentary elections. With V.P. Singh as prime minister, the National Front government earned the appellation of "the crutch government" because it depended on the support of the Communist Party of India (Marxist--CPI (M)) on its left and the BJP on the right.
On August 7, 1990, V.P. Singh suddenly announced that his government would implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission to reserve 27 percent of central government jobs for the Backward Classes, defined to include around 52 percent of the population. Although Singh's Janata Dal had pledged to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations as part of its election manifesto, his announcement led to riots throughout North India. Some seventy-five upper-caste youths died after resorting to self-immolation to dramatize their opposition, and almost 200 others were killed in clashes with the police.
BJP president Lal Kishan (L.K.) Advani announced that he would traverse the country on a pilgrimage to Ayodhya where he would lead Hindu activists in the construction of the Ramjanmabhumi Temple on the site of the Babri Masjid. As the pilgrimage progressed, riots between Hindus and Muslims broke out throughout the country. The National Front government decided to end the agitation, and Janata Dal chief minister of Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav, arrested Advani on October 23, 1990. On October 30, religious militants attempted to storm the Babri Masjid despite a massive military presence, and as many as twenty-six activists were killed. The BJP's withdrawal of support for the National Front government proved fatal, and V.P. Singh lost a parliamentary vote of confidence on November 7, 1990.
Two days before the vote, Chandra Shekhar, an ambitious Janata Dal rival who had been kept out of the National Front government, joined with Devi Lal, a former deputy prime minister under V.P. Singh, to form the Samajwadi Janata Party -- Samajwadi meaning socialist -- with a total of sixty Lok Sabha members. The day after the collapse of the National Front government, Chandra Shekhar informed the president that by gaining the backing of the Congress (I) and its electoral allies he enjoyed the support of 280 members of the Lok Sabha, and he demanded the right to constitute a new government. Even though his rump party accounted for only one-ninth of the members of the Lok Sabha, Chandra Shekhar succeeded in forming a new minority government and becoming prime minister (with Devi Lal as deputy prime minister). However, Chandra Shekhar's government fell less than four months later, after the Congress (I) withdrew its support.
The Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Janata Party declined after the fall of the Chandra Shekhar government. In the May-June 1991 parliamentary elections, their share of the vote dropped from 17.8 percent to 15.1 percent, and the number of seats in Parliament that they won fell from 142 to sixty-one. The parties were able to win seats only in Bihar, Orissa, and Uttar Pradesh. The factional rivalry and ineffectiveness that impeded the National Front government's efforts to provide effective government tarnished the Janata Dal image. In the absence of strong national leadership, the party was rendered a confederation of ambitious regional leaders whose rivalry prevented the establishment of a united party organization.
The Janata Dal's persistent backing of the Mandal Commission recommendations made the party highly unpopular among high-caste people in the middle and upper classes, creating fund-raising difficulties. Although the Janata Dal won state elections in Karnataka in 1994 and Bihar in the spring of 1995, its poor showing in most other states gave the impression that its support was receding to a few regional bastions.
In 1999, when some senior leaders of the party decided to join hands with the BJP led NDA, the party split vertically with the committed socialist secular leaders including Late Prof Madhu Dandwate joining forces with Shri Deve Gowda. The 2004 elections in Karnataka witnessed the revival of the party’s fortunes with Janata Dal (Secular) becoming part of the ruling coalition in the state. Subsequently, party leader Shri H D Kumaraswamy headed a popular coalition government in the state for 20 months.
The JD (S) has taken a decision in principle to maintain equidistance with both the BJP and Congress, a policy that has been endorsed at the recent national executive in Delhi. JD (S) differs with the Congress on economic policies and cannot go to elections with that.
Former prime minister and JDS supremo Deve Gowda announced the formation of the Third Front, an amalgamation of eight parties including the Left, and touted it as a political alternative to the Congress and the BJP. A meeting of the leaders of the AIADMK, BJD, JD(S), TDP, TRS and the Left parties was held in New Delhi on March 15, 2009. They have issued the following statement: "We, the non-Congress, non-BJP parties, have resolved to work together to defeat the Congress and the BJP in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. We shall work together to form an alternative government for the progress and welfare of the people of our country. We appeal to all secular and democratic forces and all sections of the people to support this endeavour." The Telugu Desam president and a leading figure in the Third Ffront, N Chandrababu Naidu, ruled out the possibility of any body being projected as the prime ministerial candidate of the third front before the elections.
Former Prime Minister and JD-S supremo H D Deve Gowda said 25 October 2013 the party would maintain equidistance from BJP and Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and supported the initiative taken by Left parties to form a future political combination. "In the coming Lok Sabha elections, JD-S will keep equidistance from both BJP and Congress," he told reporters after the party's National Executive Committee meeting. The party would contest all the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka and one seat in Kerala, Gowda said.
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