RLD announces candidates from Baghpat, Bijnor

Chaudhary Jayant Singh strikes a balance between its Jat-Gurjar base and awards loyalty to the party and farmers’ cause

March 04, 2024 11:40 pm | Updated 11:40 pm IST - Ghaziabad

A day after formalising its entry into the National Democratic Alliance, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) on Monday announced its candidates from Baghpat and Bijnor Lok Sabha seats and a Legislative Council slot. Party sources said it had been done after consultation with the BJP. National spokesperson Mohd Islam said loyalty had been rewarded and no outsider was thrust on the worker. “The party is also expected to get one or two members in the next expansion of the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet,” he said. The nine MLAs of the party had voted for the BJP candidate in the fiercely-contested Rajya Sabha poll recently.

Striking a balance between its Jat and Gurjar vote base and giving a firm answer to erstwhile partner Samajwadi Party, the RLD announced its trusted veteran and national secretary Rajkumar Sangwan, an acolyte of Chaudhary Charan Singh, from its traditional Baghpat seat while Meerapur (Muzaffarnagar) MLA Chandan Chauhan will contest from the Bijnor seat which is currently held by Bahujan Samaj Party’s Malook Nagar.

Speculation was rife that Mr. Nagar, a prominent Gurjar leader in the region, would join the RLD but the party chose Mr. Chauhan, the grandson of former Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Chaudhary Narayan Singh, who also hails from the Gurjar community.

The choice of candidates is being seen as party president Chaudhary Jayant Singh’s statement of why he moved away from the SP. In the 2022 Assembly polls, Mr. Chauhan was one of the three Samajwadi Party candidates who contested on the RLD symbol. Mr. Chauhan’s father Sanjay Chauhan represented Bijnor on an RLD ticket in 2009 but after his death when former RLD Supremo Ajit Singh chose Jayaprada over his son, Mr. Chauhan drifted towards Akhilesh Yadav. However, after the 2022 victory, when RLD president made Mr. Chauhan in-charge of the youth affairs of the party, it was seen as a move to wean the young Gurjar face away from the SP.

Rewarded for loyalty

A former teacher of History at Meerut College, Mr. Sangwan stood with the RLD through thick and thin and has been rewarded for his unstinting loyalty. In 2022, he was given the ticket from the Siwalkhas seat but he was asked to withdraw after the SP pushed for Ghulam Mohammad.

Similarly, the choice of Yogesh Nauwahar, a Jat leader from Mathura, is being seen not only as a move to showcase the party’s influence in the potato belt of western Uttar Pradesh but also as a reward for Mr. Nauwahar’s loyalty as he also had to take his candidature back when the SP pushed for Sanjay Lathar, a close aide of Mr. Yadav for the Maant Assembly seat of Mathura Lok Sabha.

Sources said the party was mulling over the names of Rajpal Balyan and Ashraf Ali Khan for the seat in the Cabinet. While Budhana MLA, Mr. Balyan is a senior farmer leader from Muzaffarnagar who has his base in the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Mr. Khan, who represents the Thana Bhawan seat from Shamli district, represents the strong Muslim base of the party, is feeling insecure after the RLD switched over to the NDA.

Dr. Ajit Singh, professor in SSV College, Hapur said those farmers who were apprehensive about their plight after Mr. Singh’s shift to the NDA would welcome the choice of candidates as loyalty for the farmers’ cause had been awarded.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how the BJP will accommodate Satyapal Singh, its two-time MP from Baghpat who defeated Chaudhary Ajit Singh in 2014 and Jayant Singh in 2019.

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