At a time when Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi have joined hands to fight the electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh, another young leader – RLD general secretary Jayant Chaudhary – is trying to consolidate his party’s support base.
Talking to Brajendra K Parashar, Chaudhary said the people have rejected politics of caste and religion giving an opportunity to the RLD to grow. Excerpts:
How crucial are these assembly elections to the RLD?
Elections give an opportunity to voters to effect change, to discourage communal elements and vote on issues. RLD’s fortunes are tied to the fate of Uttar Pradesh.
How do you assess your party’s prospects now when the elections are about to end?
Hopefully, we will win many seats in this election. We are contesting the election with a long-term strategic view of ensuring the party’s growth. Our workers are enthused and our issues are getting recognition across the state.
What was the strategy behind the RLD contesting so many seats beyond the home turf?
Anti-incumbency factor is working against all the parties active in the state. There is room for the RLD to grow. Rejection of caste and communal politics is on the cards and that gives us a fillip.
Historically, the RLD’s victory has been confined to 9-10 districts that went to polls in the first phase. Will the party open its account beyond its pocket borough?
We will surprise many ‘neutral’ observers.
Why the issue of Harit Pradesh has disappeared from the RLD’s poll menu this time?
We have spoken positively on small administrative units. We have also included the issue of decentralisation of high court with a proposal to set up benches in Harit Pradesh, Purvanchal and Bundelkhand.
Is RLD open to the idea of a post-poll alliance with any party, if required, after the elections?
We cannot be in politics with a closed mind and heart. Our issues are important to us. Our manifesto is at the centre of our efforts and will remain so in future.
But you and other leaders of your party keep saying that RLD will have no post-poll alliance with BJP – the party which was at least twice in alliance with RLD. What is your take on this?
The poll rhetoric of the BJP, as it exists today, goes against our grain and cultural ethos. For a PM to take up divisive issues and run an entirely negative campaign has damaged the credibility of the BJP.
Why all the parties treat RLD as politically untouchable when it comes to forge an alliance with it?
Not only RLD, even our core political constituency of farmers have been sidelined by all parties. It is my belief that every action leads to a reaction.
Suppose RLD gets to form the next government, what would be the first thing it would like to do?
Constitute a farmers’ commission to look into remunerative pricing and livelihood issues of agriculturists. In long term, we need to aggressively take up measures to bring in governance reforms and improve the ability of the state to deliver the benefit of its schemes at people’s doorsteps. Administrative and police reforms will improve investment climate, create jobs and help bridge trust deficit between communities.