Jats feel 'politically untouchable'

Assembly polls 2017: Uttar Pradesh gears up for 1st phase on Feb 11

Jats feel 'politically untouchable'

 As he takes turns to smoke the hookah at a ‘chaupal’ (village square) in Bauli village of Badhot late Sunday afternoon, wrinkled-faced Rajpal Singh says the Jats want a resurgence of their political identity.

Ahead of the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh on February 11, Rajpal thinks that the dominant agrarian community of western Uttar Pradesh is feeling “politically untouchable” in the absence of a strong leadership that it could relate to at the state level – whether in the BJP, SP or BSP.

The veteran farmer’s views echo in the two adjoining Jat-dominated villages of Rustampur and Mahautpur, which account for 12,000 votes.

Their once leader Chaudhary Ajit Singh of the RLD is fighting hard to regain his place in Jat politics after his party’s humbling performance in the 2012 Assembly elections. His hold slipped further two years later, leading to the former Union minister himself losing Bagpat in the Lok Sabha polls.

Adding to woes is RLD’s inability to join the SP-Congress alliance with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav putting his foot down.

This has left the caste-based party to contest the triangular fight alone.
The RLD, which has fielded 326 candidates for the 403-member UP Assembly, is out to inflict maximum damage to the BJP in whatever way it can, local party leader Arun Tomar, who is close to Ajit’s family, told DH.

Given that Jats populate about 70 seats spread over some 19 districts in the state, a swing of a few percentage points in the community’s votes away form the BJP can alter equations in the election, which is being fiercely fought on caste equations.
“We will destroy the BJP game plan in western UP. How many seats we win is secondary,” Tomar said.

Though Mahautpur village pradhan Ajay Chaudhary claims that a large number of Jats would vote for the RLD to revive the party that was the undisputed flagbearer of agrarian politics during former prime minister Charan Singh’s era, other community members vouch for the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jats had voted en masse for the BJP after the communal polarisation following the Muzaffarnagar riots to help the party sweep the state with 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 elections.

Ajit, in his address at a rally in Baghpat, cautions the community against “the BJP’s hate politics”, hinting that they should not get involved in a communal flare-up, like the one which was reportedly used to garner their support in the last general election.

The other thing that the farming caste feels is that the BJP has not done much with regard to the sugarcane issue — which Modi himself tried to address by saying in a Meerut rally on Saturday that he had cleared 99% of the Rs 2,200-crore compensation package due for 2014-15.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)