Lucknow: The much-talked-about pre-poll alliance between Jayant Singh Chaudhary-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections was confirmed on Tuesday.
Yadav met RLD president Chaudhary in Lucknow to discuss a seat-sharing formula with sources saying that the SP is likely to concede 30-36 seats in western UP, including the RLD citadel—Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Mathura, Bulandshahr, Aligarh and Bagpat—to its alliance partner.
With no aides present, the two leaders discussed the political situation in western UP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement on repealing the three contentious farm laws. A final announcement on the alliance would be made soon, the leaders said before tweeting pictures of their meeting.
Yadav has given indications about cobbling up alliances with smaller and caste-based parties saying that the SP has had bitter experiences of aligning with major political parties (the Bahujan Samaj Party in 2019 and the Congress in 2017). The SP, the Congress and the RLD had contested the 2017 Assembly polls together. The SP and the Congress parted ways after the Bharatiya Janata Party won the polls.
Political experts said that the RLD commands a much stronger position in the sugarcane belt especially after Chaudhary’s active participation in the farmer agitation. The RLD, which was once a very influential political force in western UP, the experts said, is now striving to regain its lost ground riding on the wave of farmer protest, which has the party’s core Jat voters at its epicentre. The unrest among farmers in western UP has given RLD the hope of putting on a good show in the elections.
Waseem Akram Tyagi, a senior Meerut-based journalist, said that the SP-RLD alliance could bring Jats and Muslims together on a single platform and this could upset the BJP’s apple cart in the region.
“The 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots had shredded the relationship between Hindus, particularly Jats, and Muslims in western Uttar Pradesh. This also led to the divergence of Jat voters towards BJP and Muslim voters towards the Samajwadi Party, polarising the region. But after the farmer protests in the region, especially where Jats dominate, BJP leaders are avoiding visiting the villages. The BJP is at a loss due to Jayant’s rise,” Tyagi told Newsclick.
On the 2017 Assembly elections and arithmetic, Tyagi said, “Take the case of Siwalkhas Assembly constituency, under the Meerut division, where Jats have influence. In 2017, the BJP managed to win the seat with a margin of around 6,000 votes. Similarly, the BJP won the Meerapur constituency, in Muzaffarnagar district, with 150 votes. In both the seats, the SP secured the second position. The new alliance and the distancing of Jats from the BJP would be fruitful for Akhilesh Yadav.”
Tyagi also pointed out that Jat candidates in western UP are not in a position to win if they contest the elections independently, but they can make a huge impact in terms of vote transfer. “The Tikait brothers have a good influence in western UP and people cannot tolerate a word against them. Similarly, those (Jats) once loyal to the BJP are now in Jayant’s camp and sending their tractors to the Mahapanchayats.”
Tyagi said that the Muslim-Jat unity before the Muzaffarnagar riots can be gauged from the fact that Jats elected several Muslim leaders, including Mushtaq Chaudhary as an MLC and Maulana Mahmood Madani as Rajya Sabha member. “After the farmer movement and since western UP has become the epicentre of the protests, a change has been observed among people—75% of Jats are angry with the BJP, and after the SP-RLD alliance, a clear majority for the BJP can be ruled out.”
Another political observer said that both Rakesh and Naresh Tikait brought Jats and Muslims together again after eight years at the ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ in Muzaffarnagar by promising to heal the wounds of 2013. A reunion of Muslim and Jat voters, coupled with the resentment against the BJP, could work in favour of the SP.