Several rounds of talks — more than 10 dinner meetings with BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley — and personal stakes appear to have pushed Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh to go to the Lok Sabha polls with the saffron party.
Apart from Bagpat, the RLD chief’s constituency, Singh wants his son Jayant to have a smooth going in Mathura, where the BJP has a decent following. Singh’s associate Anuradha Chaudhary is a contestant from Muzaffarnagar.
Other RLD candidates include Devendra Nagpal (Amroha), Ram Ashray Verma (Sitapur) and Munshi Ram Pal (Nagina). The party is still to decide on its Hathras candidate. The BJP has agreed to give seven seats to the RLD.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, who is contesting from Ghaziabad, which has a sizable number of Muslims voters, can expect the Jats to back him following the understanding. “We expect the impact to be felt in many seats,” BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Though the two sides are expected to make a formal announcement around February 26, senior BJP leaders see the alliance as the outcome of the emerging caste equations in western Uttar Pradesh.
While the Jats see Singh as the bearer of the legacy of his father and former prime minister Charan Singh, the BJP claims influence among the Baniyas, Rajputs, and non-Yadav other backward classes in the region. The influence the parties have among various sections of voters will help both the sides, Jaitley said.
The RLD leader drove a hard bargain. “The seats where the BJP-RLD alliance will work well are the ones which Singh’s party is contesting. We think that the BJP may gain in Gautam Budh Nagar,” a party leader, who didn’t wish to be identified, said.
Singh decided to go with the BJP because he realised that the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) were yet to work out their arrangement. As for the Bahujan Samaj Party, its base among the Dalits does not sit well with his party’s image.
“The SP’s strength is among the Yadavs, which, too, does not benefit him (Singh),” said another BJP leader.