BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma on Wednesday, 26 January, said the party wanted to "welcome" Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary to the saffron fold, but the Jat leader had chosen the "wrong path".
The RLD is fighting the upcoming Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections in alliance with the BJP's main rival – the Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party (SP).
"We wanted to welcome Jayant Chaudhary to our home, but he has chosen the wrong path. People of the Jat community will speak to him. Our door is always open for him," the BJP leader said.
His comments came after Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Jat leaders from Western Uttar Pradesh in New Delhi on Wednesday. In the meeting held at Verma's home, around 200 Jat leaders were present.
Soon after, Chaudhary took to social media to reply to BJP's "invitation".
"Don't invite me [to your home], ask the 700+ farmers' families whose homes you destroyed," he tweeted in Hindi.
Chaudhary's reply was in reference to the 700 farmers who lost their lives during the year-long farmers' protests against the Centre's controversial farm laws. After more than a year of protest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the revocation of the laws in November 2021.
Farmers from Western UP, where the RLD has influence, also took part in the protests with the Bharatiya Kisan Union's (BKU) Rakesh Tikat emerging as a key leader of the agitation. The protests seem to have dented the BJP's prospect in the upcoming UP elections.
However, Jats in Meerut have been upset over some of the seats going to the SP candidates. Protests have been held in Siwalkhas, Sardhana and Hastinapur over the past few weeks after lists of alliance candidates were announced.
Meanwhile, the Jat farmers in Muzaffarnagar see the UP elections as an opportunity to set right what they see as "wrongs committed to them".
The RLD is riding on the mended ties between Muslims and Jats on the back of the farmers protest. In 2013, riots in Muzaffarnagar left over 60 dead and several displaced, followed by many arrests. The riots were said to be a moment of reckoning, in which the much celebrated ties between the Muslim and Jat communities came unravelled.
Earlier, SP president Akhilesh Yadav had said that he would defeat and drive out those who have brought injustice to the nation’s farmers.
He said, “This is our promise. We will throw out those who treated farmers with cruelty. Jai Jawan Jai Kisan.” He tweeted that the party has taken a 'Anna Sankalp' to drive out the BJP from the state.
Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections are scheduled to be held from 10 February to 7 March in seven phases. The counting of votes will be held on 10 March.