Kairana win marks re-emergence of kisan politics at national level, says RLD vice-president Jayant Chaudhary
Jayant Chaudhary, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) vice-president, led the Kairana campaign. He spoke to Hindustan Times about the party’s win. Edited excerpts:
What does this win mean?
It means a lot for us in the RLD. We have had a few rough elections. But at the larger national level, it builds the momentum for the opposition for 2019. Kairana is in a region marked by communal violence and the outcome is the beginning of a new chapter.
What would you attribute it to?
Our workers were very motivated. They saw it as an opportunity to revive the RLD. We aggressively raised the issue of farmers and sugarcane arrears and forced Yogi (Adityanath) to talk about it. A broad social coalition came together. And all parties in our alliance worked and contributed extensively. This is a united battle.
But could one argue that while this is a victory of arithmetic because of opposition unity? That it is not really a win for social harmony? Your Muslim candidate did not campaign in Jat areas and you didn’t really campaign in Muslim villages.
I did go to Muslim areas. Remember we only had 10-12 days to campaign. This is a large constituency spread over two districts. We had decided on a micro-campaigning strategy and had to manage it accordingly. This is a big win for social harmony. People want reconciliation. They have rejected this constant divisive rhetoric of love jihad and other issues. When Yogi came, he also harped about the riots, but the people rejected it. They don’t want to be boxed into particular arithmetical equations. Our aspirational, issue-based campaign won.
The BJP, despite fighting alone, won a respectable vote share of over 45%. Does that signal they have substantial support?
Frankly, they misused the state machinery extensively. I would have said this in any case. If I had lost and said it, people would have called me a sore loser and now they may not believe it. But it is true.
The RLD, as you said, has had a few rough elections. What next for you?
I think, in a larger sense, this outcome marks the re-emergence of kisan politics in the country at the National level. The RLD will not be a sole torchbearer of this. But like we raised the issue of sugarcane farmers, other parties will emulate the model. We will continue with our aggressive, agitational politics on electricity tariffs and sugarcane payment.
What is the role of Congress in your broad alliance in UP?
I think the Congress is very relevant at the national level. It should collaborate with smaller parties and we should all show we can work together. This is what will distinguish Congress from Modi when we are painting him as arrogant. The Congress is a large party, there is no reason not to work together in other states as well, and there should be a nationwide coalition.