The results of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are out. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is all set for a second innings as the state Chief Minister. While BJP won 255 seats, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance, collectively won 119 seats. Even though the alliance lost, those looking at the intricate political narratives have praised RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary for his party’s performance.
According to Election Commission data, Jayant’s party won 8 seats in western UP, where his party fielded 33 candidates, garnering nearly 3 per cent vote share. In the process, it also emerged as the fourth largest party in the state ahead of Congress and BSP.
After the announcement of results, Jayant took to Twitter to accept the mandate and stated, “I respect public opinion. Congratulations to all the winning MLAs! It is expected that they will work in accordance with the trust of the people. The workers have worked hard, and the struggle will continue!”
जनता के मत का सम्मान करता हूँ।
जीतने वाले सभी विधायकों को बधाई! उम्मीद है व जनता के विश्वास के अनुरूप कार्य करेंगे।
कार्यकर्ताओं ने महनत की है, और आगे भी संघर्ष जारी रहेगा!
— Jayant Singh (@jayantrld) March 10, 2022
RLD’s performance, a direct result of Jayant’s popularity
RLD’s decent show in the election has put Jayant ahead of his father and founder of RLD, Ajit Singh. Under Singh, RLD had only one seat, Chhaprauli, in the 2017 state elections. However, after his untimely demise in 2021 due to Covid, Jayant took the reins of the party and steered it towards eight seats.
Political experts are of the view that with Ajit around, RLD would have capitulated, but Jayant ensured the party survived and thrived. Unlike his alliance partner in SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, Jayant is a bit more grounded and affable. With a strong family and political lineage to Choudhary Charan Singh and a congenial personality, Jayant stands out amongst his peers.
Chaudhary is a former Lok Sabha MP who graduated from Delhi University and in 2002 completed a master’s in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science. While the one that studied in Sydney for his higher studies is a staunch anti-vaxxer, Chaudhary appears as the level-headed one.
BJP and its flirtations with Jayant
It is perhaps the reason that BJP has never shied away from making its admiration clear for the RLD leader. In January, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Jat leaders at MP Parvesh Verma’s residence and iterated that doors were open for Jayant as the ideology of both parties and the community was the same and both keep national interest first and have been fighting against ”invaders”.
Pravesh Verma later told the reporters, “In the meeting, we have suggested that people of the Jat community talk to Jayant Chaudhary. Doors of the BJP are always open,”
BJP and its top brass leaders rarely flirt with opposition leaders, but Jayant seems to be an exception. While squared up against BJP in the elections, Jayant did not hold back any punches and even went a little cocky when it came to the Jat vote bank — but it is expected from a competitor, and BJP and its leaders did not mind being tested to the hilt.
Jayant may just be a steal for BJP
If BJP can sway Jayant to join the saffron surge, make no mistake, it would be a steal and a future investment. The assembly elections have indicated where the 2024 General elections are heading.
However, if BJP wants to be double sure and lock the six-seven odd parliamentary seats in Western UP, tying up with Jayant may not be a bad proposition.
After the 14-month long fake farmers’ protest, the opposition had created the narrative of Muslim-Jat unity that was emerging to overthrow the BJP. While the gimmick political dynamic didn’t work as BJP suffered a minor dent in its seat share, it would be advisable to win over the still hurt Jaat voters. And no better way to woo them than by having the tallest Jaat leader in Jayant by their side.
With Jayant in the camp, BJP may just be able to prop up its numbers in Rajya Sabha as well as weaken SP. Moreover, Jaats hold the key to BJP’s fortunes in states like Haryana and Rajasthan. Keeping them satisfied can go a long way for BJP’s future ambitions.
It’s also a case of setting new goals. Jayant may have started bright but if he continues to engage himself along the casteist lines of SP, he and his party may just become the mid-table party that is only relevant every five years. Jayant has to expand his horizon and take odd risks. BJP should be his next destination.