Even though Rashtriya Lok Dal and Congress are involved in hard bargain for electoral alliance for 2012 assembly election, both parties are skeptical about positive gains outside the “Jat land” (western UP).
The RLD president Chaudhury Ajit Singh made it clear here that talks were on for alliance and not for merger. The RLD preferred to have poll pact to losing its independent identity forever.
The Congress too is now bracing up for poll pact. There is a feeling in the UPCC that even poll alliance could help in improving the situation of the party in Western UP. In case the RLD succeeds in transferring its Jat-Muslim vote the Congress could emerge stronger.
“At least in some districts in West the Congress could be a gainer,” says UPCC spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh. He said a final decision would be taken after Parliament session. However the Congress is still hoping for merger.
Outside western UP the RLD barely has any prominent presence. But sources said during seat sharing the RLD would demand some seats in Eastern UP and Bundelkhand.
Senior RLD leader Munna Singh Chauhan told Hindustan Times that the party was on strong wicket in West and in order to strengthen claim for seats from Congress in east the party has decided to contest forthcoming Zila Panchayat election in east
“We will demonstrate our strength through panchayat poll”, he said.
With just 3.27 percent total vote in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the RLD, in alliance with the BJP, had won five seats in western UP. Similarly it had garnered 3.70 percent vote in 2007 assembly election in which it had won ten seats. The RLD’s maximum vote percentage was 4.49 in 2004 Lok Sabha election, which it had contested in alliance with Samajwadi Party.
But the Congress track record of vote percentage had always been higher than the RLD. The Congress touched lowest- 6.02 percent- in 1998 Lok Sabha election and highest –18.25% - in 2009 general election.
However the emerging alliance would not only have to confront with ruling BSP, which has considerable hold over Jatav (Dalits) votes but also SP and the BJP. The BSP and SP too have been making determined efforts to keep the well-entrenched Muslim vote in western UP in good humour. The SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhury firmly ruled the possibility of alliance.
The SP had suffered a lot in 2009 in western region because of its tie up with former BJP leader Kalyan Singh. Mulayam Singh Yadav has already apologised on the issue. But his apology is yet to be put to political test.