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At meet led by Shah, BJP reaches out to Jats, sends feeler to Jayant

🔴 The Jats form a substantial share of the population in the seats which go to polls on February 10, and the closed-door meeting of Shah and other BJP leaders with the Jat leaders was held a day ahead of them heading out to campaign in these constituencies.

Amit Shah, Jat leaders, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2022, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsHome Minister Amit Shah at the meeting with Jat leaders on Wednesday. (Express)

Led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the BJP on Wednesday reached out to Jat leaders ahead of the first phase of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, saying the Centre was always there for them even if they had “issues” with the state government.

The Jats form a substantial share of the population in the seats which go to polls on February 10, and the closed-door meeting of Shah and other BJP leaders with the Jat leaders was held a day ahead of them heading out to campaign in these constituencies.

Sanjeev Balyan, Jat leader and BJP MP from Muzaffarnagar in west UP, who attended the meeting, told The Indian Express: “I told the leaders that even if you have concerns or issues with the state government, we have the Centre to look up to. Both Amit Shahji and Prime Minister Narendra Modi listen to us.”

BJP leaders present at the meeting said Shah told the gathering: “You are free to vent your frustration with me. Do you need to look up to someone else?”

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The Jats have been restive and angry with the BJP government over the contentious farm laws, which were recently repealed by the Centre after year-long protests. There have been reports of BJP leaders facing attacks from angry crowds while campaigning in west UP in the past few days.

Delhi Jat BJP leader Parvesh Varma, at whose house the meeting was held, said: “Amit Shahji asked them (the Jats) not to go anywhere else. He told them he was obliged to the community the way it had supported the BJP in the last elections. He told them that whatever their grievances, he would try and solve them.”

The BJP also reached out to Jayant Chaudhary, the chief of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the foremost Jat party in west UP that is fighting the elections in alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP), hinting that the BJP’s doors were still open to him.

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After the meeting, Verma said: “Jayant Chaudhary has chosen a wrong path. The people from the community will try and convince him. Possibilities are open even after the elections… We wanted him to come to us but he chose another house… It’s never too late.”

Soon after, Chaudhary tweeted: “The invitation should not be for me… you should give it to those 700 plus farmers whose families you have destroyed.” The reference was apparently to the 700 farmers who the farm unions claim died during the protests.

Shah had held similar meetings with leaders of the Jat community ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections in UP and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Jat support for the party was a factor in the BJP’s sweep in the state in both the elections.

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Wednesday’s meeting followed days after the BKU’s Rakesh Tikait, the most influential Jat farmer leader of west UP, slammed the BJP for “divisive” statements, saying they would hurt the party. The BJP has been raising alleged Hindu exodus from Kairana in the wake of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots during its poll campaign, with Shah holding his first public meeting after the announcement of the election dates in the town.

In their talks with Shah, the Jat leaders are believed to have put forth demands such as payment of sugarcane dues within 14 days and a quota for the community. Sources said Shah assured them he would work towards meeting their demand after the elections.

Shah also told them that no one respected Mahendra Singh Tikait (Tikait’s father) like PM Modi did.

Apart from BJP leaders from the community, the meeting was attended by Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, in-charge of UP elections for the BJP, and in-charge of western UP for BJP Captain Abhimanyu.

Among the BJP leaders who start campaigning in west UP Thursday is Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who will be interacting with locals in Ghaziabad. His son is the BJP candidate from neighbouring Noida.

First published on: 27-01-2022 at 03:57:30 am
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