The civic elections are going to be litmus test for Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which is sharing power with the Samajwadi Party in the state. Largely a rural-based party of western Uttar Pradesh, the RLD has fielded mayoral and other candidates outside its bastion to assess the political ground realities.
Having joined mayoral fray in Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Aligarh and Bareilly, the party by fielding candidates in eastern Uttar Pradesh has been trying to evaluate its recent exercise to gain ground in the region. Even though a partner in the government, the RLD has decided to go it alone in the polls.
It could just be the beginning of SP and RLD falling apart before the state assembly elections. Thriving on farmers' slogans, the RLD had never been strong in urban areas even in its own bastion.
Thus, for its mayoral candidate in Meerut, Mohd Tayyab Qureshi, it appears to be an uphill task. While facing anti-incumbency, the party's Jat-Muslim combination is also under strain in the region. The Minister for Haj and Minorities Welfare Haji Yaqoob Qureshi has also been creating problems for RLD in Meerut. The minister, who is at loggerheads with Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, has now targeted the RLD also.
Apart from taking out farmers' yatra in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand, the RLD has organised several rallies to widen its base. Still, the party distinctively lacks an urban agenda.
In fact, the RLD had earlier opposed civic elections before the assembly polls. RLD general secretary Anil Dubey said local units had been authorised to extend support to any secular party except the BJP and BSP wherever the party had not fielded its candidates. This is the first time the party is contesting local bodies elections on a large scale and it hopes these polls would help widen its base in the state.