Jats still rule the political roost in western UP

  • | Wednesday | 17th April, 2024

Jats still rule the political roost in western Uttar Pradesh. There was a time when the Jats voted en bloc to elect their leader from their community. Among the Lok Sabha constituencies of west UP, Baghpat has remained deeply connected with Chaudhary Charan Singh and his family. But the family members also lost their political battle when the Jats became unhappy with them. Chaudhary Charan Singhs signature, in the form of gates of link road in his name, link roads in his name, is visible everywhere in Baghpat. But this is not an endorsement ticket for the victory of a candidate supported by the Chaudhary family, the voters say. And the reason is that only the Jats know who they will vote to win. This time Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary has fielded his long trusted lieutenant Raj Kumar Sangwan, who has been associated with the party for several decades and is seen as a hard core cadre leader. RLDs arch rival Samajwadi Party has fielded former MLA from Sahibabad, Amarpal Sharma, a Brahmin, while Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded a Gujjar candidate, Praveen Bainsla, from Baghpat. So the division of votes is sure. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there were 16.56 lakh voters in Baghpat and Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Satypal Singh clinched victory by securing 5.25 lakh votes, defeating RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary who secured nearly 5.02 lakh votes. As per a rough estimate, the total voters consisted of four lakh Muslims, 3.5 lakh Jats, 1.25 lakh Gujjars, 1 lakh Kashyaps, 1.8 lakh Dalits, 1 lakh Rajputs and 1.5 lakh Brahmins. Though numerically the Jats voters come at the second place in the constituency, their dominance is above all. No political party can afford their ire in west UP because their presence is high in almost every Lok Sabha constituency of the region. The recent decision of the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre to honour late prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh with Bharat Ratna is being looked at as a ploy to woo the Jats who have a lot of reverence for Chaudhary Charan Singh. Jats feel that the political appeal of late Chaudhary Charan is unmatchable till the date. The Bharatiya Janata Party has succeeded in its bid to win over the Jat community and bring the RLD chief into its fold. The Jats, who are mostly in farming, have their dominance in Lok sabha constituencies in west UP. They also have a good sway over the people of other communities and not only have work relations but they are involved in helping the people of other communities. The social fabric of the Jatland is such that one cannot escape the influence of Jats and their friendship. The history of Jats also binds them together, making them a prominent group. They are considered a mighty group of people who used to help their supporters and those who they trust the most. Former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, who was also the chief minister of UP, had formed Bhartiya Kranti Dal in late 1960s after deserting Congress when he felt being slighted in the grand old party and played Jat sentiment. Then voters, including the Jats, had taught a lesson to the Congress in the elections. The foundation of Jat dominion that Chaudhary Charan Singh had laid further was taken care of by his son Ajit Singh and is now being strengthened by RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary. Until the Bharatiya Janata Partys roaring success in 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which the saffron party trounced RLD founder Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary in Baghpat and Mathura, respectively, the RLD had a good sway over the voters, who were wooed by the BJP in due course of time. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhary faced another defeat in Muzaffarnagar and Baghpat. Political analysts say in view of the Jat sentiment and its psyche, the BJP picked the leaders from among the Jats who were familiar with the Jat communities and who used to associate with khaps, and succeeded in getting strong support from the community after the Muzaffarnagar riots when the community fell out with the Muslims. The BJP created a vote base for itself among the Jats by honouring Jat leaders and warriors by opening a university named after Jat freedom fighter Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh in Aligarh, invoking Gokul Singh, a 17th century Jat warrior who fought Mughal king Aurangzeb. But at the same time, the rivals of the saffron party were playing the same cards to woo the Jats and this reduced the BJPs share in Jat vote bank. Previous elections show that the Jats voted en bloc for the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls but deserted the party in the 2022 assembly election. The RLDs alliance with the NDA will surely help the BJP in saving its Jat vote bank while the RLD chief, who was not happy with big ally SP and wanted to play a bigger role, will also benefit by joining hands with the BJP, said a leader of the RLD. The vote share of RLD increased in 2022 from what it had in 2017 assembly elections. It won eight assembly seats. Also, SP-backed RLD candidate Madan Bhaiyya had defeated BJPs Rajkumari Saini in Khatauli bypoll in December 2022 and the RLD strength reached to nine MLAs in UP assembly. RLD gained in the alliance with the SP as it succeeded in finding a toehold among the Muslim voters with the help of SP and its vote percentage increased. 

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