The BJP’s big win in Uttar Pradesh elections has shattered Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh’s hopes of reviving his political fortunes in western UP by uniting traditional Jat voters and raising emotive issues about the community.
Having failed to win a single seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, RLD was unsuccessful in convincing Congress and SP for an alliance. Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Choudhary, then decided to go it alone and fielded candidates almost in all constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh. The strategy was to win over the Jats and Muslims, but it failed.
During campaign, they held a series of meetings with their clansmen and reminded them of the excesses on Jat youths in BJP-ruled Haryana during the reservation stir.
The BJP was also targeted for having disapproved the demand to convert Ajit Singh’s father and late former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh’s bungalow into a museum and how the former, a former Union minister, was forced to vacate it after losing the 2014 polls.
Perhaps, it was felt that the Ajit Singh and Jayant’s emotional appeal would help win back Jat voters, but they were proved wrong.
Barring its bastion, Chaprauli in Baghpat district, RLD was trailing in other constituencies of western UP.
BJP was ahead in 52 out of the 71 seats of the region while Samajwadi Party (SP) was leading in 15, Congress in two, BSP and RLD in one each.
In 2012, SP had bagged 26 seats in the region, BSP 22, BJP 12, Congress seven and RLD three.
RLD general secretary Trilok Tyagi said the BJP had polarised voters again as they did in 2014.
“Urban Jat voters came under the influence of the RSS, but the Jats supported RLD in rural areas. Others, including Muslims, didn’t vote for the party,” he claimed.
While the RLD raised issues concerning farmers, the BJP spoke about exodus of Hindus, surgical strikes and the fear of turning west UP into another Kashmir.
Tyagi said such issues eventually led to polarisation with many voters rallying behind BJP.
Chaudhary Subhash Baliyan, secretary of the sarv khap panchayat chaupal, said Jats voted for BJP “because many youths who were named accused in the Muzaffarnagar riot are still in jail”.
He said there were many issues more significant than Jat pride and reservation. He said that a considerable number of Jat voters went with the RLD too.