‘Party working to increase its electoral worth so that the party chief can negotiate as many seats as possible’.
Rashtra Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary is seen to be in pursuit of making his party more relevant in western UP. Sources suggested that the party has started working on the ground and increase its electoral worth so that the party chief can negotiate as many seats as would be possible to get.
Sources in the RLD said that the party is focusing on around 25 seats in the western UP and also asserted that work taken up in these constituencies doesn’t mean that the party will contest on all, but the groundwork will also help its partners who would probably contest on many of such seats. However, the party wants to consolidate the Jat voters which would eventually help the party strengthen on electoral grounds. An analyst said, “If the party wants to grow, it needs to have a say over its core vote bank and such a move is seen to lay the foundation for its growth in future political ventures. Moreover, if these voters start coming towards RLD, the party would have a greater say while seeking more seats in any alliance.”
RLD general secretary Trilok Tyagi told The Sunday Guardian, “We are preparing on seats but there is no hard and fast rule that we will contest on all the seats we are preparing on. First, we have contested 10 seats with Mulayam Singh Yadav and have also contested around 15 seats with the Congress. First there was Akhilesh Yadav and RLD together and now there is Congress in the alliance as well. So, there is no question about we being adamant on the number of seats. We will all sit together and decide on that. We are with Akhilesh and Congress Party in INDIA alliance.”
Since RLD’s first general election in 1998, the party’s vote share has remained less than 1%. Its vote share had dropped from 0.44 in 2009 to 0.13 in 2014. However, after the 2019 general elections, the party is seen to be having upward trajectory in vote gathering as it polled 0.24 in 2019.
Moreover, in 2022 Assembly elections, the party for the first time was able to cross three percent vote share to 3.18 owing to farm law protests it had supported vigorously. Before that, in its 27-year electoral history, the highest the party had polled was in 2002 at 2.65%. In addition to that, in 2004, the party had contested highest number of seats winning 3 out of 10. In 2009, it won the most number of seats in its electoral history, winning 5 out of the 7 it had contested.
The party’s core vote bank has been the Jat population. The Lok Sabha constituencies where there is most Jat population are Muzaffarnagar, Kiarana, Bijnor, Nageena for Chandrashekhar Vavan, Mathura, Baghpat, Amroha, Fatehpur Sekri, Meerut, hathras, bulandshahr, aligarh. Party insiders suggest that Jayant Chaudhary has recently spoken to his inner circle, conveying that the Congress will have a considerable role in seat distribution formulae in UP. The party insider said, “As it is a national alliance, they are going to be a part of. So, the role of national party will be more sought as they are the mainstay of the INDIA alliance.” A political analyst based in UP said, “The party is going to be a part of bigger alliance this time and it wants to relaunch itself with a bigger standing in Lok sabha. Thereby, it feels that this could be the right time for them to come up as bigger party as the bigger alliance will also warrant bigger chunk of voters coming its way.”