scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Alliance runs into hiccups, RLD supporters question SP tickets, feel Jats sidelined

In Siwalkhas, RLD supporters, including Muslims, are threatening to vote against the alliance's candidate, the SP's Ghulam Mohammad.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar | Muzaffarnagar, Shamli |
Updated: January 21, 2022 7:55:48 am
Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant ChaudharyAkhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary during a joint rally in Meerut (Twitter/samajwadiparty)

Formally announcing their alliance at a Parivartan Sandesh Rally in Meerut’s Dabathwa last month, the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal appealed to people to look beyond caste- and religion-based differences to defeat the BJP in the elections. Just 20 km from the venue where SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and RLD head Jayant Chaudhary shared the stage, in Meerut’s Siwalkhas, clouds have appeared over the alliance.

While the murmurs are still about a candidate here and a name there, the larger feeling is that the Jats, who have turned against the BJP, leaving it weaker in western UP, are not getting their due. And that the SP, the senior partner, is getting seats that should have gone to the RLD.

In Siwalkhas, RLD supporters, including Muslims, are threatening to vote against the alliance’s candidate, the SP’s Ghulam Mohammad. Siwalkhas is situated in Meerut but falls under the Baghpat Lok Sabha constituency. Baghpat was the constituency of Uttar Pradesh’s tallest Jat leader and late Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, Jayant’s grandfather.

Mohammad’s nomination came as a shock, say residents, as they were confident an RLD leader would get the ticket, either Sunil Rohta or Rajkumar Sangwan. Rohta is a popular figure across West UP, and has been organising rallies for the alliance, including the Akhilesh-Jayant one. Sangwan, the principle of a local college, is a veteran RLD leader with support across communities.

Best of Express Premium

Quad: Opportunities, challengesPremium
Prashant Kishor: ‘In the next 20-30 years, Indian politics will revolve a...Premium
Tempered by power, BJP’s shift away from 1989 Palampur Resolution o...Premium
Kaun lega Prithviraj Chauhan: Now playing in Rajasthan, a caste trianglePremium

“Sunil and Rajkumar have dedicated their lives to the party and are well-known to us. We thought the alliance will be a movement against the BJP and will unite us. But the sidelining of RLD candidates shows that the party is not in control,” says Hamid.

While in the 2012 elections that the SP won, Mohammad had beaten the RLD’s Yashveer Singh from Siwalkhas by 3,500 votes, the locals say it was more a vote for Akhilesh. They say Mohammad never worked for them as their MLA.

Of the seat’s 4 lakh voters, around 1.25 lakh are estimated to be Muslims. The community is apprehensive that given his unpopularity, Mohammad’s candidature may end up benefiting the BJP.

Samad, a paint shop owner in Siwalkhas, says: “In this village, our Hindu brothers protected us during the riots. Once we chased out people who were causing problems in a temple.”

Pointing out that it were the Jats who led the protests over the farm laws for a year against the Centre, he adds: “It appears that Akhilesh Yadav didn’t want to reward them. People are ready to even vote for the BJP against the alliance at the moment.”

Rohta insists the issues have been solved. “There is no denying I have worked hard for the party all these years. There was anger among the public, but we are now holding meetings among locals to support the alliance candidate. Jayant Chaudhary is with us and we have an understanding. There is a bigger cause before us.”

Protests are also brewing against SP-RLD candidates in Mathura and Meerut. In Mathura’s Mant Assembly seat, candidates from both the SP and RLD have filed their nominations. On the SP ticket is a Jat leader and close aide of Akhilesh Yadav, Sanjay Lathar; the RLD contender is Yogesh Nauwhar, who lost previous MLA elections.

Yogesh claims he was asked to withdraw his nomination by the RLD, but he refused. “I will fight the elections with all my heart. If someone fights on an SP ticket from Mant, I will not withdraw my nomination,” he says.

RLD workers are also protesting against SP candidates Atul Pradhan in Sardhana and Yogesh Verma in Hastinapur, both constituencies in Meerut.

Several Jat bodies in the region have carried out agitations against the RLD, accusing it of giving in to the SP. “We accept the alliance but it is no less than a compromise. The Jat community has contributed a lot to the cause of the RLD and it is natural that representation is expected,” says Rohit Jakhar, convenor, Rashtriya Jaat Mahasangh.

Western UP goes to polls in the first phase on February 10. The SP is contesting 10 and the RLD 19 of the 29 seats for which names have been announced by the alliance. In 2017, the BJP had swept the region. The RLD, whose best UP performance remains the 14 seats it won in 2002 (all in west UP), is only expected to notch up some seats here. In 2017, it had won one seat across the state.

Meanwhile in Muzaffarnagar, where Jats and Muslims still carry the tension of the 2013 riots, the alliance has found support despite no Muslim candidate being given a ticket. “We support RLD candidate Anil Kumar. We see him as part of the alliance and are backing him wholeheartedly. The vote will be against the ruling government and we hope that the alliance can deliver,” says Azad Firadi, a resident and local SP party worker.

Chief SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary also denies any problems in ticket distribution. “This is a joint operation by both parties. Decisions have been taken after due discussions. We are heading towards the first phase in a smooth manner,” he says.

For all the latest Elections News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement