New Delhi: Realising the old adage that divided we fall, old and ageing socialists have got together once again to revive the old Janata experiment of the 1970s under a new nomenclature -- however, this time their enemy is no more the Congress - which can even be a friend - but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
It will take a few more months before the announced merger of the unofficially called `Janata Parivar` can take-off, but the socialist parties feel they can halt their rival`s march, starting with the Bihar assembly polls next year, though their main aim remains forming a strong opposition bloc in parliament.
Leaders are hopeful of forming the new party before the budget session of parliament. "Mulayam Singh-ji has been entrusted with the work to form the party. It will block the BJP`s march in the country," Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Ram Gopal Yadav told IANS.
"The first impact will be visible in the Bihar assembly elections," he said.
The bloc has SP, Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar`s Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Lalu Prasad`s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Om Prakash Chautala`s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and HD Deve Gowda`s Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) along with several smaller entities.
Bihar is set to go to the polls next year and the Janata Parivar expects to reap benefits with the coming together of JD-U, ruling the state currently, and RJD, which was in government for 15 years in Bihar in the past.
Highly placed source said the bloc will not have a problem in shaking hands with the Congress, if needed.
"To stall the BJP, if need arises, we will not mind joining hands with the Congress," a senior SP leader, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.
JD-U leader KC Tyagi echoed the feeling.
"This bloc is anti-BJP," Tyagi said.
Interestingly, the original Janata Party - formed in 1977 as a reaction to the Emergency - had the Bharatiya Janata Party`s predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh as one of its constituents.
Tyagi, however, added that the first preference will be to bring together all non-BJP, non-Congress parties.
"The Janata Parivar is here, and since we have formed this bloc, leaders from BJD (Biju Janata Dal), TMC (Trinamool Congress), NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) and some other parties have approached us. We have also been in touch with the Left at the same time," Tyagi told IANS.
"We are going to be the total opposition at the Centre, and will counter the government whenever needed," he added.
Talking about the optimism regarding Bihar, the leader said: "In the Lok Sabha polls, BJP put up a good show, but after RJD and JD-U shook hands, the results of the by-elections were in our favour. Winning in Bihar will be the first message to the nation that we can block the BJP."
The RJD-JD-U combine had won six of the 10 assembly seats in by-elections in August, a few months after the BJP won 22 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats from the state, and its ally Lok Janshakti Party won six, taking the tally to 28.
The BJP won a thumping 282 seats in the Lok Sabha elections.
The whole procedure of forming a joint party will, however, take up to two-to-three months.
"We will have to call the national executive meetings and conventions of all the parties, then the Election Commission will be approached ... The whole process will take two-to-three months but we are hopeful of forming the party before the Budget session," Tyagi told IANS.
While the bloc has been formed, in the words of the leaders, to block the "communal" forces, indicating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Tyagi said the agenda will be only good governance.
"Our agenda will be based on neither caste nor religion but on good governance," said the JD-U leader, who is said to be close to former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
However, another socialist movement leader Ram Kripal Yadav, who left RJD for the BJP just before the Lok Sabha polls, said the bloc was formed out of fear, and will not bear fruits.
"When the Janata Party was formed, there was an anti-Congress feeling among the people. This time, the people have given a mandate to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and this bloc is being formed just out of fear," Ram Kripal Yadav, who is minister of state for drinking water and sanitation, told IANS.
"What impact are they talking about? Mulayam Singh has no influence in Bihar; similarly, Deve Gowda has no influence in Uttar Pradesh, Nitish Kumar will not work in Karnataka ... The leaders are regional, and they will not work outside their own states," said the leader, who had once been a close confidant of Lalu Prasad.
The original Janata Party was formed when Socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan called for all opposition parties to unite against the Indira Gandhi-led government in 1977. However, a fall out came soon with ideological differences emerging among the leaders. Their government was dissolved in 1980, after which the Janata Party gradually splintered.