Jats Di­vide Loy­alty Be­tween BJP and RLD in Western UP

Anger against note ban & ‘fail­ure’ of Modi govt cited as rea­sons for dis­en­chant­ment

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

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—

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