Trouble In UP’s Opposition Alliance Over Seats, Jats Feel Shortchanged
The Samajwadi Party- Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance has run into trouble with RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary facing strong dissent from his party’s top Jat leaders in Siwalkhas constituency, located in Meerut but under the Baghpat Parliamentary seat. The disagreement is over the candidature of Ghulam Mohammed, a member of Samajwadi Party.
RLD workers are also up in arms against the Samjawadi candidates fielded in Sardhana and Hastinapur — two other constituencies in Meerut. There is a growing perception that the Jats are not getting their due despite being at the forefront of the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws.
The Baghpat constituency has always been a Jat stronghold and was represented once by former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh and later by his son Ajit Singh — the father and grandfather of Jayant Chaudhary.
This time, RLD’s Jat leaders Sunil Rohta, Raj Kumar Sangwan and Yashveer Singh were the top contenders for candidature in Siwalkhas constituency. Instead, the ticket went to a Samajwadi leader.
Jat leaders — many of whom led the anti-farm laws protest in this area — are extremely unhappy about this decision.
In a conversation with NDTV, Ghulam Mohammad, admitted the internal troubles of RLD.
“If I didn’t get the ticket, our people would have had the same emotions. The people of RLD who were asking for tickets also had feelings,” he told NDTV. “We all belong to farmer families. It is true that the leaders of the Choudhary community have been active in the farmers’ movement, but Muslim farmers have also fully supported them,” he added.
In 2017, the BJP’s Jitendra Pal Singh snatched the seat from sitting MLA Ghulam Mohammad — who was also his closest contender — by a margin of 13,990 votes. RLD’s Ranveer Rana was in the fourth place. Rana had won the seat in 2002 and lost it to Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party in 2007.
The RLD’s top contender for the seat is Sunil Rohta, a popular figure in western Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is seen as fighting an uphill battle with the Jats and local farmers turning against it.
Now, even the Muslims in this Jat belt are against the Samajwadi leader’s candidature. More than 25 per cent of the voters are Muslims, who are now concerned that the tussle within the alliance may benefit the BJP.
In western Uttar Pradesh, the first list of 29 alliance candidates shows that 19 seats have gone to the RLD and 10 to the Samajwadi Party. All seven seats in the second list have gone to the RLD, which is now contesting 26 seats.
A majority of the seats have gone to Jats and Muslims. Ten Muslim and seven Jat candidates have been fielded in the area which goes to polls in the first phase of election on February 10.