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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Aman.Sharma @times­group.com

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

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