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RLD gearing up to regain political ground with farmers' agitation
Lucknow, Feb 2 - The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is gearing up to regain lost political ground through the farmers' agitation against the three new Union farm laws. Other opposition parties are also trying to revive their political fortunes through this protest but at present the RLD seems to be ahead.
After the Red Fort incident on January 26 when there were attempts to suppress the farmers' movement from all sides, there was a feeling that now this protest would end.
But when Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) National Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait wept at the Ghazipur border on January 28 night making an emotional appeal, the farmer protest took a different turn. As a result, the police could not arrest Tikait. In the mahapanchayats that have taken place since then, the friendship between the BKU and the RLD has begun to blossom. The political colour to the farmers protest could prove to a boon for the political fortunes of the RLD.
Farmers have always been affected by western Uttar Pradesh politics. For this reason Chaudhary Charan Singh became the Prime Minister. RLD founder and National President, Chaudhary Ajit Singh, is considered among those leaders in Indian politics who have served as ministers in nearly every government at the centre. They have been changing political allies frequently.
If we look at RLD's record of coming up with new political experiments, during 2002 14 MLAs from the party had won while contesting the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2009, the RLD contested the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the BJP in which five of their MPs had won. In that election, the RLD had bagged seven seats and this is its best political graph till date.
In 2012, the RLD fought the UP Assembly elections in alliance with the Congress and won only nine Assembly seats. 2014 was the year of Narendra Modi's rise to the national stage, which proved to be extremely disappointing for the RLD. This is where the story of the RLD's political journey began shrinking.
In 2017, the RLD managed to win a single Assembly seat in Chhaprauli after fighting the elections in alliance with the Congress but the lone MLA of the party defected and joined the BJP. Despite not winning a single seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, due to the caste equations the RLD cemented a place in the alliance between the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party. The RLD could not succeed there as well.
Since the debacle of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the RLD has been continuously trying to revive its political clout. The night of January 28 proved to be the turning point for the farmers. RLD Vice-President Jayant Chaudhary captured the attention at the right time and started moving forward.
On January 29, BKU President Naresh Tikait called a panchayat in Muzaffarnagar where changes were seen in the political equations. Naresh Tikait gave a call for a message of unity by calling Jayant Chaudhary on the stage. He also expressed his unhappiness over the failure of Jayant's family in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Senior political analyst Ratanmani Lal said the RLD's seats during the 2012, 2014, 2017, 2019 elections have reduced. Its political base has shrunk. Ajit Singh has also retired from politics. He could not do anything for the farmers.
Ajit Singh could not become a mass leader. His relevance as Chaudhary Charan Singh's son could not be felt. He has got a new lease of life from the farmers agitation. He has been successful in uniting the Muslims and the Jat communities which, too, was shattered by the past Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh. But it looks to once again gain traction through the farmers agitation.
Tikait feels that the farmers agitation could flourish in UP with the support of politicians. In the upcoming panchayat elections, the RLD would explore its possibilities. The RLD sees a ray of hope from the farmers' movement. If 50-60 leaders from the party win the panchayat (civic) polls, based on that they would prepare the roadmap for the 2022 state Assembly elections.
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