RLD To Join SP-BSP: Major Boost To Alliance In West Uttar Pradesh
RLD is set to join SP-BSP Mahagathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh after Jayant Chaudhary met Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is all set to join the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The RLD's entry is said to have been finalised after party leader Jayant Chaudhary met Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow on 16 January Wednesday afternoon.
After the meeting, Chaudhary said, "It was a successful meeting with Akhilesh ji. I feel that we were successful in our efforts".
He also tweeted a picture of himself and Akhilesh Yadav with a couplet by Allama Iqbal.
Through the couplet, which can be translated as: "When the eagle spirit is awakened among the youth, they see their destination in the skies", Chaudhary is clearly trying to send a message that the two young leaders are united in their purpose.
The Seat-Sharing Formula
The seat-sharing with the RLD is yet to be finalised. The RLD initially asked for six seats and soon reduced it to five. SP and BSP were only willing to concede two seats initially but now Akhilesh Yadav has agreed to give one more from the SP's share. As of now the RLD has been allotted Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat and Mathura. The fate of two seats – Hathras and Kairana is still not known.
RLD chief Ajit Singh is likely to contest from Muzaffarnagar while Jayant Chaudhary could contest from the family pocket-borough Baghpat. Ajit Singh has represented Baghpat for six terms while Chaudhary Charan Singh has won the seat thrice.
In case it is allotted more seats, it is possible that an SP candidates could contest on the RLD symbol. Two names are doing the rounds in case there is such an arrangement: Sanjay Lathar, a Jat MLC considered close to Akhilesh Yadav, in Mathura, and senior party leader Ramjilal Suman in Hathras.
This is a repeat of the formula used in the Kairana bypoll last year, in which Tabassum Hasan of the SP contested on an RLD ticket and won.
The SP is now likely to contest lesser seats than the share of 38 that was announced by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati last Saturday. In one seat the SP is also likely to accommodate the Nishad Party. This could be a repeat of the Gorakhpur bypoll last year, in which Praveen Kumar Nishad, son of Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad contested on an SP ticket and won the seat, which is considered the fief of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
What Will Be The Impact Of RLD’s Entry?
The RLD's entry is likely to give the Mahagathbandhan a decisive edge in Western Uttar Pradesh, especially among Jats and Muslims, who are said to be the traditional support base of the party. The Jat-Muslim alliance was ruptured after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, which led to the RLD's decimation in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In the 2017 Assembly elections, it managed to win only Chhaprauli, which was Chaudhary Charan Singh's stronghold and has consistently won by RLD or its previous avatars like Lok Dal and Bharatiya Kranti Dal.
By reportedly contesting from Muzaffarnagar, Ajit Singh is trying to revive the Jat-Muslim alliance. According to RLD insiders, Ajit Singh sees this not just as a step to revive the party's fortunes but also an ideological battle against the communal polarisation that helped the BJP.
There are several seats where the RLD's entry is likely boost the Mahagathbandhan's prospects. Let’s take a look at seven such seats.
The delay in including the RLD in the alliance is said to have been because of BSP chief Mayawati's reluctance to part with any seat from the BSP's quota in Western Uttar Pradesh. Her opposition also stemmed from the fact that in several Western UP seats, the BSP and RLD have been in direct competition. For instance in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, RLD and BSP emerged as the top two parties in six seats: Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar, Mathura, Hathras, Bijnor and Kairana. The BSP is also said to be unsure if its Dalit and Muslim supporters would be willing to vote for RLD's Jat candidates in seats like Muzaffarnagar.
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