Lok Sabha elections 2019: Challengers aim to change script in Uttar Pradesh’s westside story
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary won Mathura, the epicentre of Braj, in 2009 but lost it to actor-turned-politician Hema Malini in 2014.Updated: Mar 17, 2019 02:21 IST
Propelled by the Narendra Modi wave, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 20 out of 22 seats in western UP during the 2014 Lok Sabha election and the party is in no mood to lose its hold now. While the BJP won six out of eight seats in Braj alone, the Samajwadi Party won two seats in the region—Mainpuri (Mulayam Singh Yadav) and Firozabad (Akshaya Yadav). The Bahujan Samaj Party drew a blank.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary won Mathura, the epicentre of Braj, in 2009 but lost it to actor-turned-politician Hema Malini in 2014.
Mathura has been allotted to the RLD for the current election under the seat-sharing formula worked out among the SP, the BSP and RLD.
The Congress failed to win any seat in the region in 2014. It won just one seat here in 2009 and two in 2004. In 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1998 too it failed to open its account in the region.
Mainpuri is an important seat in the region due to its association with the Samajwadi Party’s Yadav family. Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav won the seat in 2014 but vacated it as he chose to retain Azamgarh in east UP. His grand-nephew Tej Pratap Yadav won the Mainpuri seat in the by-election that followed. The SP patriarch is all set to be in the fray from Mainpuri this time too.
In 2009, the BJP won only the Agra (reserved) seat in the region. The party was represented by Ram Shankar Katheria, the current National Scheduled Caste Commission chairman.
Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, who is now the Rajasthan governor, won the Etah seat as an independent in 2009 and his son Rajveer Singh won it for the BJP in 2014. The Kalyan factor may play a role in the selection of candidates in the Aligarh division this time also, political analysts say. The RLD’s Sarika Baghel (now in BJP) won the Hathras seat in 2009 and the party’s Jayant Chaudhary bagged the Mathura seat. Raj Kumari Chauhan of the BSP won the Muslim-dominated Aligarh seat that year.
Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav won the Firozabad seat in 2009 but vacated it as he chose to retain Kannauj. In the ensuing by-election, the Congress’s Raj Babbar defeated Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav.
The BJP won all 14 Lok Sabha seats in the Meerut, Saharanpur and Moradabad divisions in 2014. The Samajwadi Party finished second in nine of these 14 constituencies. The BSP was runner-up in three seats and the Congress in two constituencies.
In 2009, the BSP won five seats, the SP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) three each and the Congress one in these divisions. The BJP won only two seats but gave a tough fight to its rivals in five other constituencies.
The BSP was runner-up in four seats, the SP in three and the Congress and the RLD in one each.
The Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal lost all the three seats it had bagged in 2009. The Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 were the main reason for the RLD’s debacle, breaking its winning combination of Jat and Muslim voters.
Amarjeet Malik, professor of sociology at Meerut College, says, “Western UP has a very different and sensitive characteristic. A minor change in vote share can affect the outcome of the election here.” Citing the Muzaffarnagar riots, he said it encouraged polarisation and a shift in votes, which resulted in a debacle for the RLD in its citadel and a landslide victory for the BJP.
In 2009, the going was tough for the BJP and its candidates were runner up in Kairana , Moradabad, Rampur, Gautam Budh Nagar and Bulandshahr. The party won only in Meerut and Ghaziabad 10 years ago.
Another sociologist Yogendra Kumar observed that in the 2009 election, caste played a more important role than polarisation of voters on communal lines. Therefore, the BJP couldn’t do well in comparison to the BSP and the SP 10 years ago, he said.
Local people said a perception about weak governance by the Congress-led UPA-2 and the then BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi’s assurance of ‘Achhe Din’ were two major reasons for voters tilting towards the BJP in 2014.
They, however, believe the election this time won’t be a cakewalk for anyone.
In fact, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief, Ajit Singh and his son, Jayant Chaudhary’s decision to contest Lok Sabha (LS) elections from Muzaffarnagar and Bagpat constituencies is likely to consolidate Jat-Muslim votes which were divided after the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013 and had benefitted the BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Victory in Kairana by-election in May last year has revived RLD’s prospect and strengthened winning equation in the region.
It became possible with the constant efforts of father-son duo continued holding small meetings and rallies in past four years to bring Jats and Muslims together.