Taking the first step towards the formation of a grand alliance for the 2017 Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the JD(U) Sunday announced that it will support RLD in the bypolls to three Assembly seats on February 13. JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav also declared the party was actively working towards forming a grand alliance in UP.
In his first interaction with party workers in UP after the Bihar victory, Yadav asked them to campaign for RLD candidates. “RLD chief Ajit Singh had met me. Today, we are taking the first step towards formation of an alliance in UP ahead of Assembly polls,” said Yadav. Bypolls for Bikapur, Muzaffarnagar and Deoband are scheduled for February 13. Ajit Singh needs JD(U) support particularly in Bikapur (Faizabad district) because of the large presence of Kurmi voters in the area.
Sources in the JD(U) told The Indian Express that the party wants to find a firmer foothold in UP by carefully working on the Kurmi community, cashing in on the leadership of Nitish Kumar, a Kurmi. Kurmis, spread over a many assembly seats, have been voting for BJP in large numbers because the party had steadily built several layers of leadership from amongst them. So, any poaching by the JD(U) would harm the BJP. Sources also said that BJP has lost ground among members of the Jat community in western UP, and Ajit Singh, despite his rout in the last Lok Sabha polls, has again emerged a key player.
The broad contours of a coalition against the BJP were believed to have been discussed during Ajit Singh’s meeting with Yadav a few days ago. Singh also discussed the issue with Nitish, said sources. Asked about SP joining the alliance, Yadav said: “We made them the leader of the mahagathbandhan (in Bihar) but they left.” While sources admitted there had been no talks with the Congress on the issue, they were sure that the party would take the lead in forging the fourth alternative.
Sources claimed that with the SP and the BSP determined to go it alone, the Congress, RLD and the JD(U) could only improve their prospects by pooling votes. “People in Bihar were divided between parties… But when JD(U) and RJD joined hands, they got united and defeated BJP…We have to form a similar organisation in UP,” said Yadav.
RLD state president Munna Singh Chauhan, who attended Sunday’s meeting, appealed to Yadav to urge Nitish to address a public meeting in Bikapur, from where Chauhan is contesting.
According to sources, Nitish and JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi also recently met Ayub Ansari, the chief of Peace Party. “Along with Congress, JD(U) wants to extend the Bihar’s grand alliance to UP… Some parties like Peace Party, Apna Dal (Krishna Patel group) and RLD, would also join in…”Tyagi said.