In western U.P., Jats turning against BJP

The Jats of western Uttar Pradesh, who can influence the election outcome in at least 50 Assembly seats, had played a key role in the BJP winning 71 Lok Sabha seats — out of a possible 80 — in 2014.

But two years on, with its demand for a slice in the Central quota still hanging fire and the continuing neglect of agriculture, the community does not appear to be in a forgiving mood.

The Jat Aarakshan Mahasabha will organise a meeting of community members in Mathura on Sunday to urge them to “boycott” the BJP in next year’s Assembly elections, its president Pushpinder Choudhury told The Hindu, as the party used the Army against the agitating Jats in neighbouring Haryana and ignored their demand for inclusion in the Central Other Backward Classes (OBC) list.

Who will his outfit ask community members to vote for? “We haven’t decided yet,” he says. “We are an apolitical body. Let us see. But we have already held eight such meetings in other districts and we are receiving good response.”

Jat leaders from mainstream parties such as the BJP, the Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal of Ajit Singh describe Mr. Choudhury as a “marginal player”, but all acknowledge — to varying degrees — that the Jats are no longer as favourably inclined to the BJP as they were in 2014 when they rode the crest of Hindu consolidation after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

RLD plan

The RLD, whose traditional Jat vote base vanished in 2014, is working overtime in western UP. While Mr. Ajit Singh has for the last three months been holding public meetings in different districts every 10 days, his son and former MP, Jayant Chaudhury, is touring the districts.

Twin issues

Senior RLD sources told The Hindu that the Jats were gradually abandoning the BJP, not only because of the reservation issue but also because of its neglect of agriculture sector — for example, the BJP’s failure to keep an election promise to pay one-and-a-half times the cost of sugarcane production.

These sources added that of late, well-to-do Muslims (who had been alienated from their Hindu Jat neighbours) were seeking RLD nomination, hoping to benefit from the old Jat-Muslim camaraderie.

On its part, the BJP is watching the situation closely. A party functionary said that to reach out to the Jats, the BJP would make an issue out of the fact that the Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Scheme was not being implemented by the Samajwadi Party government. But simultaneously, as a BJP leader from western Uttar Pradesh — who belongs to the community — told The Hindu: “The BJP will appeal to the nationalist sentiments of the community. Look at what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir. That will play out here in western Uttar Pradesh and bring the Jats back to the BJP fold.”

Clearly, there is a churning in the community in western Uttar Pradesh, and the coming months will make it clearer which appeal works on it.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 12:12:29 AM |

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