Jats Divide Loyalty Between BJP and RLD in Western UP
Anger against note ban & ‘failure’ of Modi govt cited as reasons for disenchantment
Meerut| Baghpat: TThe Jat community of wester n Uttar Pradesh, which had voted overwhelmingly for BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the wake of Hindu polarisation due to the Muzaffarnagar communal riots, appears to be divided in the ensuing Assembly elections with many pledging support to Ajit Singh-led RLD.
Though the Jats constituting a sizable chunk in districts like Meerut, Bhagpat, Muzaffarnagar and other places in western UP have not deserted BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they are no longer as enthusiastic about the saffron party as they were in the general elections.
RLD is a clear gainer in the new scheme of things and is likely to win several seats in this belt or play spoiler for the BJP. This would give a new lease of life to RLD chief Ajit Singh, who had lost the last Lok Sabha polls from Baghpat. With Muslims showing all signs of voting for any candidate who is in a position to defeat the BJP in a constituency, the division of Jat votes is a cause of worry for the right wing party. Asked why they are not voting for BJP as enthusiastically as they did in 2014, most Jats here say they are unhappy over the Jat quota agitation in Haryana and the way it was handled by the BJP government there. Anger against demonetisation and some disenchantment over the “failure” of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre to fulfil its promises made in 2014 are other reasons cited by them. In Baghpat, Baraut a n d Chapraul i constituencies of Baghpat district, even the Muslims are ready to vote for RLD as the party is in a position to defeat the BJP. RLD has fielded Kartar Singh Bhadana, a Gujjar, as its candidate in Baghpat. He is in a strong position as he is likely to get the Gujjar, Jat and some Muslim votes. Nawab Kokab Hamid’s son Ahmed Hamid is contesting as the BSP candidate.
“The Muslims will vote for the BSP candidate t hi s t i me in Baghpat. The contest is between RLD and BSP here,” Dr Imran Khan, a child specialist, told ET. There i s s o me re s e nt ment against Yogesh Dhama, a Jat leader, among voters from his caste as he left RLD to become the BJP candidate. However, his supporters say he took this decision after Ajit Singh did not given him the party ticket. “Dhama will get around 20% of the Jat votes, mostly the young. Rest of the Jats will vote for RLD,” Vinod, a Jat farmer, said.
There are around 62,000 Muslim and 45,000 Jat voters in the Baghpat constituency. Dalits
RLD candidates still invoke the legacy of Ajit Singh’s father Chaudhary Charan Singh to seek votes
(35,000) and Gujjars (22,000) are the other castes having sizeable numbers.
In neighbouring Baraut, which falls under Baghpat district, there is a close contest between Sahib Singh (RLD) and KP Malik (BJP), both Jats. Sahib Singh is said to be the front-runner and would also get Muslim votes. “Recently Sahib Singh intervened to get the slaughter houses opened again. This has endeared him to the Muslims,” a local Muslim shopkeeper of Baraut said. Though BSP has fielded Lokesh Dikshit, who won in 2012, as its candidate here, he may not be in a position to win the seat. “He is a nice man but could not get much work done in the last five years,” Deepak, a tyre shopowner said.
He maintains that the “18-28 age group” of Jat voters will go with the BJP but the older lot is supporting RLD. RLD candidates still invoke the legacy of Ajit Singh’s father Chaudhary Charan Singh to seek votes. Charan Singh’s face adorns RLD posters in some places.
Jat community members staging a protest demanding reservation in OBC quota in Gurugram on Sunday—