Eyeing Dalits, non-Yadav, Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal redraw strategy for 2024

In this endeavour, Akhilesh and Jayant are hopeful of taking Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ along.
Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary. Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | PTI)
Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary. Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | PTI)

LUCKNOW: With just 14 months left for the 2024 General Elections, the political players in Uttar Pradesh are getting war ready for the upcoming electoral battle.

In their quest to retard the winning spree of BJP, Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) and its ally Jayant Chaudhury-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) are redrawing a strategy to rope in Dalits, non-Yadav OBCs and other castes.’ The alliance seems confident of the Muslim, Yadav and Jat support.

In this endeavour, Akhilesh and Jayant are hopeful of taking Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ along. He has also given enough indications of going along with SP-RLD in 2024.

Chandrashekhar has floated his ‘Azad Samaj Party’ (ASP) to take a plunge in electoral politics. Any truck with ASP would give a push to the SP-RLD alliance in amalgamating Dalits ahead of 2024 polls, especially, with the downslide in the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) support base, feel the political experts.

Bhim Army chief is believed to enjoy a respectable clout in western UP districts including Meerut, Saharanpur, Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar.

As per a senior RLD leader, ASP will be “a key support partner” of the SP-RLD alliance helping in expanding the social coalition through Dalit outreach.

Chandrashekhar had campaigned aggressively during Khatauli bypolls last year for the RLD candidate who managed to wrestle the seat from BJP. However, experts believed that had the BSP contested the Khatuali bypoll, equations might have been quite different.

Significantly, in the 2022 UP Assembly polls, the SP-RLD alliance could not wield as much dent to the ruling saffron brigade in western UP as they were claiming. This is because they could not get votes of sections other than Muslims and Jats in the west and Muslims and Yadavs in the rest of the state. Even the Jat vote was also divided between the BJP and the RLD.

Recently, after getting re-elected as RLD chief, Jayant Chaudhury has decided to hold a small meeting in those 1500 villages across western UP which are not dominated by the jat community. “The attempt is to take other sections including Dalits, Gurjars, Sainis, Mauryas, Tyagis and Brahmins along in 2024,” says a senior RLD leader.

On the other, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is focusing on the rest of the state including central, eastern and Bundelkhand regions. He is also trying to reach out to sections other than Muslims and Yadavs to expand his party’s base.

Besides having sent out a message to OBCs by appointing Swami Prasad Maurya, Ramji Lal Suman and Achal Rajbhar in the party’s national executive, Akhilesh has also been batting for the unity of ‘Lohiawadis and Amdekarwadis’ stressing on OBC-Dalit equation to sail through in 2024.

However, in the previous 2019 Lok Sabha elections, SP-BSP-RLD mahagath bandhan had failed to stop the saffron juggernaut. While the BJP and allies had won 64 of the 80 seats, SP was relegated to five and BSP reaped the benefits of the alliance by taking its 2014 tally of zero to 10 in 2019. RLD could not open its account. BJP and allies now stand at 66 with the victories in Rampur and Azamgarh in a bypoll last year.

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