Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections,Samajwadi Party (SP) is vigorously wooing Gurjars who constitute a sizeable population in western Uttar Pradesh.
This is the first time after the death of Ram Saran Das that Gurjars are getting prominence in SP. Ram Saran Das,who hailed from Saharanpur,was state president of SP and held the post till his death in 2008. Though in his last days Das had suffered paralytic stroke,Mulayam continued with him and appointed Shivpal Yadav as working president to run the affairs.
SP became aggressive over Gurjar politics as its rival BSP has fielded several Gurjar candidates namely Prashant Choudhary,MLC from Baghpat; Kunwar Hasan from Kairana; Surendra Singh Nagar,MP from Gautam Buddh Nagar and Malook Nagar from Bijnor.
Mulayam also started his concentration towards Gurjars and doled out posts and positions. He recommended Ram Sakal Gurjar of Agra and he was nominated as MLC after Akhilesh Yadav assumed power. Later in the expansion,he was inducted as minister of state for programme implementation in February. In April,Mulayam rehabilitated six-time MLA and former minister Choudhary Virender Singh by giving him minister-of-state status. Virender has been appointed as chairman,UP Sugarcane Seeds Development Corporation. His son Manish Chauhan was fielded by the party in district panchayat polls from Shamli and is now chairman,a post which comes with a red beacon vehicle and control over huge funds. Narendra Bhati,a Gurjar leader has been given Lok Sabha ticket and also bestowed cabinet minister rank by appointing him chairman of UP State Agro Industrial Corporation Limited. Another veteran Gurjar Choudhary Yashpal Singh is national vice-president of the party.
The SP largesse had the desired effect and Virender Singh received a historical welcome from Meerut till Muzaffarnagar on April 24. Unlike their past,Gurjars from adjoining districts joined the procession in large numbers and raised slogans for Mulayam Singh Yadav. Extensive meetings are being held by these Gurjar leaders in western Uttar Pradesh to tilt the balance in SPs favour. Gurjars were indifferent towards SP. Now after Mulayam Singh took interest,they are giving favourable response, Virender Singh said.
Mulayam also poached Naheed Hasan,whose mother Tabassum is BSP MP from Kairana. Naheed is also a Muslim Gurjar and has been given ticket from Kairana seat. In the latest development,Mulayam adjusted Sanjay Gurjar of Gautam Buddh Nagar and Mukesh Choudhary of Muzaffarnagar as state secretary in backward wing of the party on Saturday. Even the appointment of Devraj Nagar as DGP is seen as a calculated move as Nagar is also a Gurjar. Gurjars are feeling proud that for the first time someone from their community has been appointed as DGP. It has sent a good message among our community, Virender Singh said.
In the past,Gurjars had political stalwarts from their community. Former MP Choudhary Yashpal Singh of Saharanpur held sway in his region. Presently,he is more than 80 years of age and is associated with SP. Babu Narain Singh,who hailed from Muzaffarnagar was deputy CM under Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna. Presently,his son Sanjay Chauhan is MP from Bijnor on RLD ticket. Hukum Singh of BJP and Virender Singh of SP are the other two Gurjar leaders who still hold clout over Gurjars.
Gurjars hold sway over parliamentary seats of Gautam Buddh Nagar,Meerut,Kairana,Bijnor,Muzaffarnagar,Saharanpur,Bulandshaher and even Baghpat. SP holds only one seat,Bulandshahr,where it has denied ticket to its sitting MP Kamlesh Balmiki.
Gurjars represent Gautam Buddh Nagar seat where Surendra Singh Nagar (BSP) and Bijnor where Sanjay Chauhan (RLD) are sitting MPs. SP does not have any Gurjar MP. Gurjars can turn the table for Mulayam by supporting SP candidates during upcoming Lok Sabha elections in their area of dominance where SP lacks support.