Lok Sabha election 2019: Ajit Singh to contest from Muzaffarnagar seat 48 years after his father lost polls here
Former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh had contested from the Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha seat in 1971 and suffered a defeat. Now 48 years later, his son Ajit Singh, also known among his supporters as Chhote (junior) Chaudhary, is entering the electoral fray from Muzaffarnagar seat. He is the candidate of BSP-SP-RLD.grand-alliance in this constituency.
Ajit Singh’s mother Gayatri Devi had previously been elected to the Lok Sabha from Kairana seat, which was earlier part of the Muzaffarnagar district and now situated in Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh.
Chaudhary Charan Singh had lost the 1971 poll owing to opposition by two formidable Gurjar leaders, Narayan Singh and Hukum Singh, in the region. Nearly five decades later, Ajit Singh’s success from Muzafffarnagar will again depend on the support of Gurjar votes.
Chaudhary Senior had, in 1967, floated the Bharatiya Kranti Dal (BKD) and became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He was the chief minister of the state for a total of 328 days. He was re-elected in 1970 and became the chief minister for the second time for 225 days, failing to complete his full tenure.
In 1969, Chaudhary Charan Singh’s BKD fielded its candidates at all eight assembly seats under Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha seat. Chaudhary Charan Singh engineered a suitable caste equation to win all the assembly segments in Muzaffarnagar.
On the back of successful campaign in the assembly election, Chaudhary Charan Singh planned to enter national politics and announced his candidature from Muzaffarnagar seat in 1971 Lok Sabha election. The Congress did not field a candidate from this seat announcing its support to the CPI candidate Thakur Vijaypal Singh against the BKD leader.
The CPI candidate defeated Chaudhary Charan Singh by over 50,000 votes. Gurjar stalwart Narayan Singh and emerging leader of the community Hukum Singh played a significant role in the defeat of Chaudhary Charan Singh.
His own party MLA Virendra Verma, then legislator from Khatauli assembly seat, also came under attack for doing “inside damage”. Verma joined the Congress following Chaudhary Charan Singh’s loss at Muzaffarnagar.
Following the loss at Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha seat, Chaudhary Charan Singh moved to Baghpat parliamentary constituency in the state. He won the Lok Sabha polls in 1977 and became first the Union home minister and then the prime minister.
In 1980, Gayatri Devi contested the Lok Sabha election from Shamli seat. Narayan Singh had challenged Gayatri Devi from Muzaffarnagar constituency. Gayatri Devi defeated Narayan Singh by about 60,000 votes.
Now, Ajit Singh is trying his luck from Muzaffarnagar seat. He had planned last year itself to file nomination from Muzaffarnagar. He had held first public function on February 12 last year with an eye on the Lok Sabha election. He held a public dialogue with the locals and stayed overnight signaling that his intent.
Uttar Pradesh is likely to witness a close triangular contest between the BJP, Congress and the BSP-SP-RLD alliance. Ajit Singh hopes that besides his RLD’s traditional Jat voters, he would be able to gain from the vote bank of the BSP and the SP. However, given the caste equation in the Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha constituency, Ajit Singh’s success will depend on Jat, Dalit and Muslim votes apart from Gurjar electorates.
Gurjars have been voting for the BJP in the last two-three elections. The BJP has not yet announced its candidate from Muzaffarnagar. BJP’s Sanjeev Balyan is the sitting MP from Muzaffarnagar. With Ajit Singh moving to Muzaffarnagar, this Lok Sabha constituency becomes one of the high profile parliamentary seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.