Congress-SP front may lose Jat support, but retain Muslim voters.
Lucknow: The exclusion of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) from the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance will, undoubtedly, weaken and divide the anti-BJP vote in western Uttar Pradesh.
The RLD-Samajwadi Party friendship broke up even before the alliance, mainly due to ego clashes between their leaders that prevented them from even coming together on the negotiating table. But the development is definitely music to BJP’s ears.
The RLD is essentially a Jat-centric party. The Jat population is around 17 per cent in western UP and the community is up in arms against the BJP that has failed to provide them reservation in central services.
The anti-BJP mood among Jats is growing by the day and the RLD alliance with Congress and SP could have mopped up the benefit in the Assembly elections.
The RLD, which won only nine seats in 2012, has been facing tough times and this is mainly due to its politically inconsistent stand. RLD chief Chaudhary Ajit Singh has changed far too many political partners in the past two decades, eroding the credibility of his party.
His son Jayant Chaudhary, however, has been working relentlessly for the past two years, especially after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections where the party drew a blank, to retrieve lost ground and he has, to an extent.
RLD wields influence in districts that include mainly Baghpat, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnore, Ghaziabad and Saharanpur and the SP was apparently unwilling to give away some of its sitting seats in the region.
The main factor that tore apart the alliance, however, is the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013. The riots between Jats and Muslims were a long-drawn affair that created permanent divisions between the two communities.
The Samajwadi Party was expectedly wary of allying with RLD and annoying its Muslim voters. Without the RLD in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress-SP alliance may lose out of Jat support, but it will keep its Muslim voters intact. Muslims constitute more than 26 per cent of the population in this region.