How a Text Message by Jayant Chaudhary to Akhilesh Yadav Set Tone for Opposition Unity in Kairana
That simple text message to Akhilesh Yadav not only brought the two parties together, but also set the tone for a larger opposition alliance for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha Election.
New Delhi: A simple text message to Akhilesh Yadav not only brought two parties together, but also set the tone for a larger opposition alliance for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha Election. “I just sent him a text message. Within an hour, he called me and he had already set up a meeting.” This is how Jayant Chaudhary, National Vice-President of Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and son of party leader Ajit Singh, described reaching out to Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav ahead of the Kairana by-elections.
After their three-hour long meeting, the two young leaders, both carrying powerful political legacies on their shoulders, had cobbled together an alliance that would challenge the BJP in western UP’s Kairana. From taking the initative to build an alliance, to quelling local rebellions and actually putting in the ground work by visiting villages, Jayant Chaudhary did not leave any stone unturned in Kairana.
“Jayant showed initative and played his hand with a lot of maturity. It is because of his acumen and Akhilesh Yadav’s big heart that the alliance was possible between the RLD and SP. Both leaders are young and have bright future ahead of them,” said Trilok Tyagi, RLD General Secretary.
But sitting down for a meeting was not enough. Jayant and Akhilesh’s fathers, Ajit Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav, were once part of the Janata Dal. After the death of former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, Ajit Singh’s father and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s political mentor, the two had a bitter falling out. More than 30 years later, the sons of two proud fathers had to work out a solution that would see neither the SP nor the RLD lose face. “It was really a stroke of genius. They picked Tabassum Hassan, a candidate who was a Samajwadi Party leader but fought on the hand pump symbol of the RLD. Both parties walked away with their pride intact,” a senior Samajwadi Party leader said.
However, Jayant Chaudhary insisted that something larger than political gain moved the two parties to come together. “We all realised that the BJP was a danger to the fabric of society. This is an anti-farmer government that needs to be defeated. Akhilesh and I had been in touch for a while and we saw that this was the moment when we could turn things around,” he told News18.
At 39, Chaudhary is the heir apparent to his 79-year-old father Ajit Singh. The BJP sweep of Uttar Pradesh during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, where it won 71 of the 80 seats, left many parties in a shambles. None more so, perhaps, than RLD. Once a force among Jat voters in western UP, the party failed to win even a single seat in 2014. The fortunes of the party did not turn in 2017 either.
With the entire strength of the opposition behind it, RLD has finally found a lifeline and Jayant Chaudhary has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. “He spent around 10 days in the Kairana Lok Sabha area and in that time, he covered at least 125 villages. He was touching 15-20 villages in a day. He was received with the same love and warmth by locals as his father is received,” Tyagi said.
But campaigning on the ground was not the only job on Jayant’s shoulders. He had to firefight and manage local egos as well. “A complication arose after Kanwar Hassan, Tabassum’s brother-in-law, filed the nomination from Kairana. We suspect that his campaign was being funded by the BJP to divide the Muslim votes. Here, Jayant played the statesman and helped to quell the rebellion,” said a senior Samajwadi Party leader.
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