LUCKNOW: The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), headed by Jayant Chaudhury, is seeking to revive its fortunes in the upcoming 2022 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, especially, in Jat land of western UP.
Chaudhury is the son of former Union Minister late Chaudhury Ajit Singh and great-grandson of popular farmers leader and former Prime Minister Charan Singh,
RLD, believed to enjoy its clout mostly among the Jats, is looking to capitalise on the alleged annoyance of Jats with the ruling BJP over farm laws. Jats constitute around 6-7% of the total population of Uttar Pradesh and make a considerable 15% of the western UP population. The community has sway on 130 seats across 26 districts under six divisions of western UP. In the last three elections -- in 2014, 2017, 2019 -- Jats had voted for the BJP overwhelmingly.
The six division of western UP with Jat dominance include Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Bareilly, Agra, and Aligarh.
Jayant Chaudhury, also a Jat, showed his clout at the ‘pagadi’ ritual of his father Chaudhury Ajit Singh who died in May, this year.
The convergence of various khaps not only dominated by Jats but also others to transfer the legacy of Chaudhury to Jayant at the Pagadi ritual, has not only given strength to Chaudhury scion but also the confidence of the revival of his party which stands decimated in its stronghold now.
As per the informed RLD sources, Jayant is nurturing Chhaprauli, considered to be the bastion of Chaudhurys, to contest the upcoming assembly elections.
Chhaprauli, in Bhagpat district, has been known as the ‘Karmbhoomi’ of Chaudhury Charan Singh.
Even after the communal flare-up of Muzaffarnagar in 2013, when the Jats and Muslim votes had split like never before, Chaudhurys managed to garner a respectable chunk of votes (over 19%) in Baghpat despite the defeat of Ajit Singh.
The party retained only one seat of Chhaprauli under the saffron wave in 2017 assembly elections. However, in the following year, the only RLD MLA Sahender Singh Ramala from the seat switched sides and joined the BJP.
Currently, RLD has no presence either in UP Assembly or Lok Sabha. The party had drawn a blank in the 2019 Lok Sabha election when it fielded candidates on three seats-- Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, and Mathura.
While Chadhury Ajit Singh lost Muzaffarnagar, Jayant was defeated by the BJP candidate in Baghpat, and Bollywood actor Hema Malini won the Mathura seat by defeating Kunwar Narendra Singh of RLD.
RLD had contested 2017 in alliance with the Samajwadi Party. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Jat party had contested as part of the SP-BSP grand alliance.
In the upcoming battle for UP, RLD, which has been mobilising the farmers of eastern UP against the three contentious farm laws in a big way, is banking upon not only the farmers' unrest but also on the coming together of Jats and Muslims amid the protest.
"The party which had suffered drubbings in 2014, 2017, and 2019 polls, is hopeful of doing well in 2022 as the social equations are undergoing a change in the wake of farmers' protest in western UP," said a senior RLD leader.
The RLD leadership thinks that if it is a hung assembly in 2022, then the party will play a big role in government formation. "So it is of utmost importance to win a good number of seats which doesn't seem impossible," said the RLD leader.