Donning their signature red caps, a group of Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders from Lucknow and west UP rallied around Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary on the stage at the RLD’s Loktantra Bachao Mahapanchayat (Save Democracy rally) in Muzaffarnagar last Thursday.
It was at this rally that Jayant asked his clansmen (Jats) in the region to return to their political home (the RLD) to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power at the Centre and in the state.
Then, on Friday night, the RLD declared Praveen Kumar Singh as its candidate for the Bulandshahr assembly seat after the SP announced that it would leave the seat for the RLD. Bypolls will be held for seven assembly seats, including Bulandshahr, in UP on November 3.
“On all other (six) seats, the RLD will support the Samajwadi Party,” said RLD national secretary Girish Kumar Chaudhary.
These moves signal that the SP and RLD alliance, the only one among Opposition parties in UP at present, may turn out to be a long-term one.
“We will be allies in the 2022 UP assembly polls as well,” said Anil Dubey, the RLD’s national general secretary.
The SP contested the 2017 UP assembly polls in alliance with the Congress and won only 47 seats, losing 177 seats in comparison to its 2012 tally of 224 seats. The RLD went alone in the polls and won only one seat which was eight below its 2012 mark.
Soon after, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary became friends. The two came together for the first time in the 2018 UP Lok Sabha and assembly bypolls for four seats — Gorakhpur, Phulpur, and Kairana (all Lok Sabha) and Noorpur (assembly). They wrested all the four seats from the BJP.
In 2019, when Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav firmed up an alliance, the RLD was nowhere in the picture initially. However, Akhilesh Yadav convinced her to take the RLD on board. The SP-BSP gave three seats (Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat and Mathura) to the RLD to contest. The RLD could not win any of these seats. The SP’s tally remained at five, the same as in 2014, but it lost in its bastions of Kannauj and Firozabad. The BSP, on the other hand, won 11 seats, against none in 2014.
Soon afterwards, Mayawati walked out of the alliance, but the RLD continued with the SP. In the 2019 UP assembly bypolls for 11 seats, SP retained the Rampur seat and wrested Jalalpur and Zaidpur from the BJP. The BJP won the eight other seats.
Now, the SP and the RLD are contesting the 2020 assembly bypolls together. Malhani (Jaunpur) was the only one of the seven seats that the SP had won in 2017. The BJP had bagged the six others. The SP-RLD alliance is looking to retain Malhani and win more seats this time.
Commenting on the SP-RLD tie-up, SK Dwivedi, a political analyst and former head of the department of political science at Lucknow University, said: “It is good that the two parties and their leaders, Akhilesh and Jayant, have behaved in a mature way without any tension and bickering between the two parties since they came together. This, despite the fact that both their fathers — Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ajit Singh — were sworn adversaries in politics. Akhilesh should look to bring more such regional players into the alliance.”
Samajwadi Party national secretary Rajendra Chaudhary and his RLD counterpart Anil Dubey said that the two parties will be together for the 2022 UP assembly polls as well.
The RLD and SP are currently campaigning together for the RLD’s Bulandshahr candidate Praveen Kumar Singh.