BJP Hopeful of Last-minute Change of Heart Among Jats
BJP has given 15 tickets to Jat candidates in phase 1; many leaders are confident that community will vote for BJP
Lucknow: BJP is betting on a last-minute change of heart among Jats in favour of it and a strong showing in urban centres to put up a strong show in the 73 assembly seats in western Uttar Pradesh that go to poll on Saturday.
“This phase is the most crucial for us. We aim to win at least 35-40 seats here. Things have changed in our favour here in the last few days,” a senior state BJP leader told ET. He claimed that party president Amit Shah's meeting with nearly 600 Jat representatives earlier this week mollified the community that has been up in arms against BJP over denial of reservation to Jats in Haryana. But reactions from Jat leaders are mixed.
Yudhvir Singh, general secretary of All India Jat Mahasabha, said the meeting was “constructive” and Shah agreed that many cases in the Haryana agitation should be dropped, and a commission should be reconstituted to consider their reservation demand. “We do not issue any political fatwas, but humne Jaat samaaj mein message bhej diya hai ki humari sarthak meeting hui hai (we have sent a message to Jat community that we had a positive meeting)," he told ET.
Some other major Jat outfits said Shah’s meeting was just a damage-control effort to mislead the community. “Nothing can be solved at the last minute,” said Yashpal Malik, national president of Akhil Bhartiya Jat Aarakshan Sangarsh Samiti that is leading dharnas in 19 districts of Haryana. “Narendra Modi gave us an assu- rance a year ago to consider reservation for Jats in Haryana but nothing happened. Is Shah above Modi? Jats will not support BJP till they actually get reservation, or those jailed for last year's protests in Haryana are not released,” he told ET.
Yet, many BJP leaders are confident that the community will ultimately vote for the party. “What alternative do Jats have? They won’t go with BSP or SP-Congress, which are openly wooing Muslims when the issue of polarisation very much still exists in west UP,” said a senior party leader involved in negotiations with Jats. “The choice for Jats could have been RLD but Jats know RLD is extremely weakened and it won’t be in any position to form the government and will ally with SP- Congress. Jats may have been angry and wanted to be listened to. Now, on voting day, they will still choose BJP,” he told ET.
BJP has given 15 tickets to Jat candidates in the first phase. “That shows we are with Jats. On the other hand, RLD has given a bulk of tickets to nonJats. Jat voters won't get divided,” said Sunil Bansal, its state general secretary.
BJP, which in 2012 won only 10 out of the 73 western UP seats going to polls on Saturday, now sees this area to be its stronghold after winning 13 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats here in 2014. That was helped by wholesome support of Jats. BSP had won 25 seats here in 2012, SP won 24, Congress won 5, and RLD had won 9.
"Phase1is most crucial for us. If we do well here, our momentum will build,” a senior state BJP leader told ET. The party is enthused by its own ground feedback of a split in Muslim votes between the SP-Congress alliance and BSP.
BJP enthused by its own ground feedback of a split in Muslim votes between the SP-Congress alliance & BSP
BJP supporters at an election rally in Kashipur last week-PTI