A “fifth vertical” will be added to the already crowded political space in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday with a joint rally by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) president Ajit Singh at Baraut in Baghpat district.
On the day, Ajit Singh’s son and former Lok Sabha MP from Mathura Jayant Chaudhary will also be projected as the chief ministerial candidate of the Janata Dal (United)-RLD combine.
The venue of the rally has been carefully chosen. Baraut is the birthplace of Ajit Singh’s father and former Prime Minister Charan Singh.
A cocktail of political parties, including the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), BJP and the Congress, are in race for the 403 assembly seats, with elections due in February-March 2017.
Kumar and Ajit Singh will address several joint public across the state’s western flanks. “We are in touch with other like-minded groups which are expected to join our secular front at subsequent stages,” JD(U) spokesman KC Tyagi said.
Strategists of the JD(U)-RLD combine hope the Congress will also feel compelled to align with their formation to achieve the common aim of preventing the BJP from coming to power in the country’s politically important state.With Kumar’s help, the RLD leader, who had earlier also hinted at an alliance with the SP, hopes to recapture his appeal with the Jat voters, who deserted the RLD in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections held in the aftermath of the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, a year earlier.
Unless voters again get polarised along communal lines, it will be difficult for the BJP to repeat its magic of 2014, when it won 71 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats, observers say.
The BJP’s handling of the Jat reservation agitation in Haryana is also said to have resulted in the community’s disenchantment with the ruling party.