Uttar Pradesh 2017

Dissipated Jat anger lets RLD down

Impacting minds: BJP president Amit Shah during an election roadshow in Meerut.   | Photo Credit: PTI

“This time, we have shown our anger to the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). If Muslims side with us, then the BJP will be wiped out from Jat land,” Kapil, a 38-year-old Jat voter in the Hathikaronda village of the Thana Bhawan constituency in Shamli, had told The Hindu after voting on February 11. When the result came out on Saturday, it turned out that he was only a part of a section of the community, albeit a significant part, which remained with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) till the day of voting. The Muslim candidate of the party, Javed Rao, could get only 31,275 votes in a seat that has over 50,000 Jat votes.

Not sustained

According to leaders of the RLD, the full-steam party campaign, which was centred on Jat anger against the BJP for not providing reservation to the community and “exploiting” it in the aftermath of the riots, could not sustain till the day of voting. Over half of the community, especially its young, chose to side with the BJP by the time the election day came.

So the party that had nine MLAs in the previous Uttar Pradesh Assembly ended up with just one MLA from its traditional bastion of Chhaprauli in Baghpat, which the party managed to win with a small margin of 3,842 votes. It fared badly in its bastions of Baghpat, Mathura, Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. In the Baraut seat in Baghpat, and Mant and Baldev in Mathura, the party managed to take the second spot. The RLD lost the Mant seat by just 432 votes. In the rest of the seats, it came a distant third or even several notches down. Its vote share varied between 40,000-20,000 in areas that used to be its strongholds.

Several party leaders at the district level told The Hindu that the BJP, which had a poor relationship with the community at the beginning of the campaign, had by the end of it successfully managed to communicate to the Jat community that their vote against the BJP would only “aid and ensure formation of a government by Muslims”.

Vote share rises

Though party workers highlighted that the only consolation to the RLD leadership was that the party increased its vote share to 15,45,676 which was “more than double its vote share in Lok Sabha polls”, its poor performance in its strongholds was just the beginning of a fresh crisis for survival for the party.

“The audio recording of Amit Shah’s meeting with the Jat leadership, which was strategically leaked, had quite an impact on the community. It actually scared the community and got at least half of the Jats to its side by the time the Jat[-dominated] lands went to polls on February 11. Finally it was Hindu consolidation in the BJP’s favour. So even though we did manage to get a significant share of Jat votes, that was certainly not enough to win,” said a senior party leader on condition of anonymity, even as the top RLD leadership kept mum.

Ashok Baliyan, a Jat farmer activist in Muzaffarnagar told The Hindu that making Jat anger central to its campaign, the RLD had sent across a message of defeating the BJP, but it did not offer anything concrete to the Jat youth, which led to their desertion of the party.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 2:43:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-2017/dissipated-jat-anger-lets-rld-down/article17453287.ece

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