Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary has raised concerns over what he claimed is the blurring of lines between the state and party, which he said can’t be the same, alluding to the BJP’s rule in Uttar Pradesh.
“There is massive misuse being done by the government. Teachers are being made to attend rallies and being sent by the bus-loads. I am told there is going to be massive misuse of postal ballot this time. People must be made aware of this,” Mr Chaudhary told NDTV in an interview today.
“Jawans have told me, too, that they have been made to vote under the supervision of their seniors. This is going to happen again,” the 43-year-old Rashtriya Lok Dal, or RLD, chief said.
The BJP is making a fresh strategy to consolidate the crucial Jat vote in western UP, which had propelled it to power in the last three elections — to national and one in the state. However, Mr Chaudhary’s RLD has partnered with former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party this time.
Over the last year, the Jats had turned against the BJP following a long protest over the now-withdrawn controversial farm laws. Now, more than ever, they are rallying behind the RLD leader.
Mr Chaudhary said there was a shift in the mood of farmers when their leader, Rakesh Tikait, got emotional and started crying during the anti-farm laws protest. “That moved people, that moved us all – my father, me, the community at large. That is a defining moment. We may bicker or fight among ourselves, but we all come together in such times,” he said.
“I have made a very informed decision to ally with the Samajwadi Party and I am going to stick to this,” Mr Chaudhary said.
“The BJP won’t change – their entire campaign is based on mandir-masjid politics, construction of Ram temple, Jinnah, etc. The BJP does not care about the 20 per cent. Who are these 20 per cent? According to their rhetoric, these are the 20 per cent who cheer for Pakistan, are happy to see India not doing well in a situation, burst crackers when something bad happens to the BJP. So, this is like the BJP’s dog whistle,” the RLD leader told NDTV.
The BJP is hoping to capitalise from recent troubles within the RLD, and counting on the party to consider a realignment. Over the last weeks, Jats in the Meerut belt have been hugely upset over some of the seats going to Samajwadi Party candidates. Protests have been loud in Siwalkhas, Sardhana and Hastinapur over the last weeks as lists of alliance candidates were announced.
Similar trouble is brewing in Muzaffarnagar, where the alliance has decided against fielding Muslims to keep the Muslim vote intact. The area had around 40 per cent Muslim population.
In 2017, the BJP had won all six assembly seats in Muzaffarnagar district.