With Muslim candidates cornering a significant share of seats in the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance, the BJP is reaching out to Jat voters by saying the SP has cheated their community in western Uttar Pradesh.
Candidates of the SP contesting on the RLD symbol has given the BJP ammunition against the alliance that could potentially play spoilsport to the BJP’s chances in the all-important western region of the state. The alliance has managed to corner Jat votes through the RLD, while the SP is already expected to secure Muslim votes.
Manoeuvring carefully through divided Jat voters in the region, the BJP is not shying away from reminding voters of Jat and Muslim fault lines in the region and blaming the SP’s “appeasement politics”.
Sangeet Som, the BJP’s firebrand Hindu leader, said, “Jayant Chaudhary ko dhokha kiya hai Akhilesh Yadav ne. Unke pitaji ne Ajit Singh ko dhokha diya tha, ab unke bete ne unke bete ko dhoka diya hai (Akhilesh Yadav has cheated Jayant. Akhilesh’s father cheated Jayant’s in the past and now he is cheating Jayant).”
“Akhilesh gave his men tickets to contest on the RLD symbol. So, if they win then legislators will be loyal to Yadav. He has cheated the Jats of western UP and they will never forgive Akhilesh Yadav for this,” added Som, who is the BJP candidate from Sardhana assembly.
Joining the chorus was union minister Sanjeev Balyan, who believes Akhilesh had not left out anyone. “Symbol is of the RLD and candidates are of the Samajwadi Party. They have used RLD and the party’s supporters are angry. We welcome everyone who wants to come,” Balyan said.
Jayant spared, Akhilesh target
The BJP, in a calibrated move, is avoiding attacking RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary. The blame of cheating the RLD is being squarely put on Akhilesh Yadav’s SP.
There are 7 per cent Jats (out of 31 per cent OBCs) in western UP and 29 per cent Muslims. A consolidation of Jat and Muslim votes could dampen the BJP’s chances of victory in the region. Through the RLD, the SP is trying to corner Jat votes by playing up the recent farmers’ protest despite a repeal by the Narendra Modi-led central government.
A cabinet minister in the Yogi Adityanath-led government, Suresh Rana, too echoed his party’s sentiment while campaigning in Jat-dominated villages. “I don’t understand why the RLD needs this alliance. Even voters of the RLD aren’t happy. Voters should accept an alliance and not feel pained…” Rana said.
Another Jat leader Satyapal Singh, an MP from Baghpat, too believes the SP has cheated the RLD. The MP said the RLD had “very little say” in the alliance. “RLD ki wahaan chali nahi (RLD did not have a say), SP ne apna candidate diya (the SP dominated in the discussion over choice of candidates),” he said.
Videos deepen Jat-Muslim fault line
The BJP has ensured that videos of the SP’s Muslim candidates, allegedly threatening Jat communities to vote for them, are circulated for all to see. Be it the video of supporters of Nahid Hasan, the SP-RLD candidate from Kairana, or of SP-RLD candidate Adil Chaudhary from Meerut (South) assembly.
Reacting to these videos, Balyan took to Twitter and asked Jats to vote and stay united. Targeting the SP alone, he tweeted, “Jaton ne vote nahin diya toh 1 minute mein ilaaj kar denge (If Jats don’t vote for us, we will tell them what we can do in one minute), Nahid hasan ke samarthak (supporters of Nahid Hassan)… SP is dividing Jats in Western UP. However, I believe that Jats will be united and stand with development and progress.”