Can the SP-RLD pact bridge west UP’s communal divide?

Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary, are renewing their political alliance in UP. The challenge is obvious
What has changed since then is, of course, the farmers’ movement, which has eroded the BJP’s appeal among the Jats, added to Mr Chaudhary’s appeal, and created a potential basis for Jat-Muslim solidarity (PTI) PREMIUM
What has changed since then is, of course, the farmers’ movement, which has eroded the BJP’s appeal among the Jats, added to Mr Chaudhary’s appeal, and created a potential basis for Jat-Muslim solidarity (PTI)
Updated on Nov 24, 2021 09:44 PM IST
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ByHT Editorial

Mulayam Singh, who is now ailing, and Ajit Singh, who passed away earlier this year, were once the young bright stars of the Janata Parivar — the first was Chaudhary Charan Singh’s protege, the second was his son. Ambitions collided, they went their separate ways. Mulayam Singh, of course, became the much bigger leader — building on a Yadav-Muslim social alliance to become a formidable power centre in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and national politics. Ajit Singh was a marginal part of every conceivable political alliance, but failed to maintain his father’s wider peasant alliance and lost his own election both in 2014 and 2019.

Their sons, Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary, are renewing their political alliance in UP. The challenge is obvious. Since the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, when Mr Yadav was chief minister, the Jats of west UP have maintained a political distance from the Samajwadi Party (SP), perceiving it as a “pro-Muslim” force; and Muslims have been sceptical of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) because of its Jat base. There was a slight shift in mood in a parliamentary bypoll in Kairana in 2018, when a Muslim candidate from the RLD won with SP support — but the 2019 polls saw the Jats consolidate largely behind the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with Muslims sticking to the SP.

What has changed since then is, of course, the farmers’ movement, which has eroded the BJP’s appeal among the Jats, added to Mr Chaudhary’s appeal, and created a potential basis for Jat-Muslim solidarity. Will it be enough for SP-RLD to do well in west UP? Will the BJP’s decision to repeal the farm laws bring the Jats back to the party? What role will the Jat farm leader, Rakesh Tikait, play? The answer to the questions will determine whether the sons succeed where their fathers did not.

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Monday, December 06, 2021