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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

A high-stakes battle for RLD’s Ajit Singh

From Muzaffarnagar in UP to Nizamabad in Telangana and Arunachal West in Northeast, a look at high-profile contests

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 11, 2019 23:52 IST
S Raju
S Raju
Hindustan Times, Meerut
The alliance between Samajwadi Party-BSP-RLD has fielded Ajit Singh, who vowed on his 80th birthday last year to strengthen communal harmony in the area.
The alliance between Samajwadi Party-BSP-RLD has fielded Ajit Singh, who vowed on his 80th birthday last year to strengthen communal harmony in the area.(PTI)
         

Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh wants to regain family pocket borough from Jat leader and former union minister Sanjeev Balyan, who is the BJP candidate. The RLD’s support base of Jat and Muslims voters was broken after the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, resulting in the defeat of Singh’s son Jayant Chaudhary, in the 2014 general elections. It will be interesting to see whether Muslims and Jats, who comprise more than half the electorate, align this time, or vote on different lines.

The alliance between Samajwadi Party-BSP-RLD has fielded Singh, who vowed on his 80th birthday last year to strengthen communal harmony in the area. He held jansamvad or community gatherings and was one of the forces behind the alliance with SP and BSP in the Kairana bypoll in 2018, which resulted in the victory of RLD’s Tabassum Hasan.

On Thursday, Balyan stoked controversy when he demanded that male officials should check the identity of burqa-clad women at poll stations where women personnel have not been posted.

He said that there was no way of checking whether people were returning to cast votes under the garb. The district election commission however refuted his complaint in a letter stating that strict checking of identity cards took place at all polling booths.

In 2014, Balyan, defeated BSP MP Kadir Rana by a margin of over 400,000 votes. The BJP leader is an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in which 60 people were killed.