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Uttar Pradesh Elections: SP-RLD Alliance & History of politics in UP

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The alliance between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is almost finalised for the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. On Tuesday, 23 November, the leaders of the two parties – SP president Akhilesh Yadav and RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary – met in Lucknow.

 SP-RLD Alliance
SP-RLD Alliance

The seat sharing arrangement between the two parties is likely to be announced soon. According to sources the RLD could contest 30-36 seats out of the 403 seats in UP. A handful of these seats could have SP candidates fighting on RLD tickets.

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This alliance is significant for a number of reasons.

1. INCREASING BIPOLARITY

The SP-RLD alliance is another step towards what is becoming a more bipolar election than what UP has witnessed in the past three decades.

If this trend continues the pressure for anti-BJP voters who may have otherwise preferred parties like the BSP, Congress, AIMIM, Peace Party etc may feel compelled to consolidate behind the SP-led alliance.

2. WEST UP AND THE FARMERS’ PROTEST

Surveys have indicated that West UP, which is the RLD’s main area of influence, has emerged as the biggest roadblock for the BJP. This is mainly due to the anger against the BJP following the farm laws.

Even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that the laws will be repealed, it remains to be seen if that helps the BJP contain damage in the area.

The farm unions and BJP’s internal critics like Varun Gandhi and Satyapal Malik have already shifted the goalpost to an MSP guarantee, thereby keeping the issue alive.

Psephologist and C-Voter founder Yashwant Deshmukh had told The Quint that “the farm laws are only part of the problem. The Jats felt that they are not being heard in the present government”.

If it wasn’t just about the farm laws but a broader political disaffection, it is possible that the repeal may not lead to a major improvement in the BJP’s fortunes among Jats at least.

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With the RLD – the only Jat-dominated party in UP – now joining hands with the main Opposition SP, it is clear for Jats which formation is likely to give them the most importance

 SP-RLD Alliance
SP-RLD Alliance

3. RLD’S BASE AND A POSSIBLE SOCIAL ALLIANCE

The RLD’s base among Jats had been shrinking due to the BJP’s rise following the 2013 Muzaffarnagar violence. However, it has begun improving since the farmers’ protest began.

Jayant Chaudhary has been one of the politicians most actively supporting the farmers’ movement.

Chaudhary is of the firm belief that RLD’s agrarian politics is the antidote to the communal polarisation that has come with the BJP’s rise in West UP.

Even at its weak period, in the 2017 Assembly polls, the RLD secured over 10 percent votes in as many as 22 seats. It managed to win only one seat though — Chhaprauli. The remaining 21 seats where RLD secured over 10 percent votes are: Thana Bhawan, Shamli, Meerapur, Moradabad Rural, Siwalkhas, Baraut, Baghpat, Loni, Modi Nagar, Khair, Iglas, Sadabad, Mant, Goverdhan, Mathura, Baldev, Fatehpur Sikri, Barkhera, Bachhrawan, Isauli, and Jahanabad.

4. IDEOLOGICAL AND FAMILIAL CONNECTION

The SP and RLD share a close ideological compatibility. Chaudhary Charan Singh is said to have been the mentor of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, who learnt a great deal from the former. In the 1970s Chaudhary Charan Singh forged a coalition of intermediary castes like Jats and Yadavs and brought them together to break the Congress’ hold in Uttar Pradesh.

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