As his party attempts to regain its presence in the Lok Sabha, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) vice-president Jayant Chaudhary on Friday said that the significance of the by-election in Kairana goes beyond one Parliamentary seat and that politics has evolved from communal issues in this region of western UP.
“Communal tensions have been high here but people have moved on. So it is very important for people outside to know that politics has evolved from there, and it is now about real issues — farmer’s issues and other things. At least our campaign has been around that,” Chaudhary, the former MP from Mathura and grandson of Chaudhary Charan Singh, said.
After bypolls to Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, where the BJP lost, “it was important to keep the message going”, he said.
Emphasising that it is wrong to see Jats and Dalits as antagonistic, Chaudhary said, “Farmers’ issue is very significant. Sab marey huay hain, pite huay hain, vote denge (all have been hit and they will vote). When people vote together, they start thinking differently about their lives. They start thinking of structuring their lives together. This then does not remain only a political alliance. Even in the medium-term, it enables better, stronger and more harmonious ties between various social groups.”
Having failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat in 2014, so how confident is the RLD of recovering?
Calling it “not a death blow but a warning shot in our direction”, Chaudhary said, “We needed to mend our ways of doing politics, communication, and tweak our strategy. Our voters are emotional…. With the young, some new converts to Hindutva, we have to approach each segment differently. We have not held any big rallies but done micro-level meetings.”
He said, “In 10 days, my workers and I have held 145 meetings. Things have been very hectic, and people can see we are sweating it out.”
Jayant Chaudhary asserted that it is necessary to confront the BJP’s politics as “it is clear form this campaign how BJP has set off on such a dangerous and divisive path for just a few elections. People see through this negative campaigning and the hate that they are spewing. The Chief Minister Yogi ji has started terming riot victims as shaheed. We must give justice to all those who are hit, but cannot demonise anyone. Hindus and Muslims have long and old traditions of living together.”
He added that “people thought, let the BJP come to power, that will mainstream them. But after coming to power they have become even more rabid, to the right of the right. Their ranks have been emboldened so much that they have spiralled out of control of their leaders. This kind of politics is very dangerous and it is important to confront it soonest, rather than evade the task.”
The BSP has not been visible in campaign so far but Chaudhary said that is not a worry. “The BSP always works without loud campaigning — that is how they worked in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, too. (BSP chief) Mayawatiji was on the stage in Bengaluru recently (with leaders of several opposition parties during H D Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in as Karnataka CM), so we are not worried.”
Stating that Dalits all over the country are “very angry with the BJP”, the RLD leader said, “(Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji is silent on critical issues. There is visible anger, especially in the latest case on how they have handled the Supreme Court matter regarding the Atrocities Act.”
Chaudhary said it is necessary to confront the BJP’s politics as “it is clear form this campaign how BJP has set off on such a dangerous and divisive path…. The Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath) has started terming riot victims as shaheed (martyrs). We must give justice to all those who are hit, but cannot demonise anyone. Hindus and Muslims have a long tradition of living together.”
He expressed surprise that the Election Commission is “not really visible in the campaign. I see minimal presence of videographers, recorders of EC this time at rallies, during speeches. It is puzzling.”
The election for the parliamentary seat of Kairana became necessary with the death of its BJP MP, Hukum Singh. His daughter, Mriganka Singh is in the fray for the seat. Tabassum Hasan is the RLD candidate, and is supported by all the opposition parties, including the SP, BSP, Congress, AAP, CPI(M), Nishad Party and others.