Despite the fact that Baghpat has traditionally been almost an impregnable fort of the Chaudharies, the smouldering fire of the communal riots is threatening to sear Ajit Singh’s family fief.
From the days of Chaudhary Charan Singh to his son Chaudhary Ajit Singh, the electorate has on a majority of the occasions voted and supported them, but this time it remains to be seen whether Ajit will be able to retain his voters’ loyalty or the communal feelings will leave the voters fragmented and Chote Chaudhary isolated.
It was this reason Ajit got the Centre to announce Jat reservation just before the poll bugle was sounded. But this time, the communal divide is contaminating the vast stretches of sugarcane fields in and around Baghpat which faced heat in the aftermath of 2013’s riots which left more than 60 persons dead and scores others injured and thousands displaced from their houses, most of them Muslims.
Though rioting and arson happened mostly in Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat is not far away from there and the incidents have undoubtedly polarised the electorate, boosting the BJP’s confidence.
The BJP has fielded former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh. While the BSP has put up Prashant Chaudhary and the SP candidate is Ghulam Mohammed. Though communal polarisation could help the BJP, his outsider tag could play spoil Satyapal’s chances. The SP’s woes are growing by the day as a majority of Muslims stand alienated with it after the riots.
The recent Supreme Court indictment of the Akhilesh Yadav government for its failure to prevent the riots has further tainted the SP’s image. And the BSP’s Prashant is silently mobilising support in the traditional style, going door to door, and wooing Muslims, Dalits and his fellow Gujjars.
The Jats who dominate the constituency have most of the time been loyal to the Chaudharies who haven’t lost this seat in recent period except once -- in 1998.
Despite being in the NCR region, Baghpat remains a backward and undeveloped spot. The people of Baghpat have hardly got anything from their Chaudharies -- no major medical institute, no prestigious IT centres-- yet haven’t deserted them.
It was Charan Singh who had crafted a unique social combination -- AJGAR( Ahir,Jat,Gujjar) and then expanded it to MAJGAR (Muslims,Ahir, Jat and Gujjar) and popularised his Lok Dal, of which SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav used to be a part.
But after Charan Singh’s death, Mulayam formed his own outfit and weaned away Muslims and Ahirs (Yadavs), while the Jats and the Gujjar joined Ajit’s RLD. The AJGAR-MUJGAR social equation worked at the social level too, in that these communities lived together peacefully even when the most parts of the country witnessed riots in the wake of the Ram Janam Bhoomi.
The communal conflagration burnt this age-old social fabric and turned major communities against one another. The scars of this social tension could influence the mood of the voters this time. And some parties are trying to keep the communal flames alive for political gains.