The Narendra Modi-led saffron surge wiped out the Rashtriya Lok Dal in home turf western Uttar Pradesh on Friday, heaping crushing defeats on civil aviation minister and party chief Ajit Singh, his son Jayant Chaudhary and six other candidates.
The RLD’s defeat in its much-vaunted Jat bastion will have far-reaching effects in the politics of western UP.
Ajit Singh tasted defeat in his Baghpat seat at the hands of former Mumbai police commissioner and BJP candidate Satyapal Singh. Jayant Chaudhary lost his Mathura seat to actor and BJP candidate Hema Malini.
The party’s star candidate Jaya Prada lost in Bijnore. Her mentor Amar Singh bit the poll dust in Fathepur Sikri.
The RLD had entered the election as an ally of the Congress. In 2009, the party had allied with the BJP and bagged five seats.
“Ajit Singh once again failed to understand the mood of people, especially after riots of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli,” a party leader who did not want to be named said.
This was Ajit Singh’s second electoral reverse on his home turf. He had lost in 1996 to BJP candidate Sompal Shastri.
Jats are traditional supporters of the RLD since the time of Ajit Singh’s father, former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.
The riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in September last year and Ajit Singh staying put in Delhi cost the party dear, said another RLD leader on condition of anonymity.
“He did not visibly reach out to his committed Jat and Muslim voters who clashed with each other. If his idea was to remain neutral, it boomeranged,” the leader added.
Former RLD leader Satveer Tyagi, who joined the BJP a month before the elections, said, “The riots turned out to be a disaster for the RLD, as they broke the winning combination of Jat and Muslims.”
BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpai dubbed Ajit Singh as the most unreliable person in politics. “Now the BJP has total control in politics in western UP and its effect will be visible in the coming years.”
File photo of civil aviation minister Ajit Singh speaking to media at Parliament House in New Delhi. PTI Photo