In Bagpat, RLD hopes for a ‘sweet’ revenge...

AM Jigeesh Bagpat | Updated on March 31, 2019

...but confident BJP feels cane arrears are a non-issue

Bagpat in western Uttar Pradesh could put the poll plank of both the Grand Alliance and the BJP to the test.

While the campaign of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and its candidate, Jayant Chowdhury, revolves around sugarcane arrears, the BJP is trying to make the most of the “hyper nationalism” that has come to grip the country post the strike by the Indian Air Force against terror camps in Balakot, Pakistan.

The constituency has more than 16 lakh voters, and among them, 4.5 lakh are Jats. With four lakh Muslims and 2.5 lakh Dalits, the arithmetic is said to be in favour of the alliance. The area also has about one lakh Gujjar voters.

The vocation of almost 85 per cent of the voters is farming and related activities.

In 2014, during the “Narendra Modi wave”, BJP’s Satyapal Singh, a former Mumbai police commissioner, got more than 4.30 lakh votes.

SP’s Ghulam Mohammed came second with 2.13 lakh votes. RLD president Ajith Singh came third with about 1.9 lakh votes, and the BSP secured 1.41 lakh votes.

Banking on development

The alliance reckons that by consolidating Opposition votes, Chowdhury can easily win in 2019.

But the BJP, whose campaign was launched by Modi himself, has got its strategy in place. “Our campaign is based on the developmental initiatives of the Modi and Yogi governments. There are many roads and schools which can be showcased as examples of our initiatives. Also, the way we defeated terror camps has been widely appreciated by the voters,” said Bhupender Singh, a BJP leader firom the district.

“Modi is popular in every household,” he added.

The BJP believes that the alliance may not get the votes even from its own support base. “The Jat vote will get split. The Dalits are happy with the Modi government. Schemes such as Ujjwala have made the BJP popular among women. Only Muslims will vote for the alliance,” another BJP worker said.

Sugarcane farmers’ woes

The RLD’s campaign is woven around sugarcane dues.

“The BJP never cares for farmers. The sugarcane arrears have touched ₹13,000 crore. The prices of power, seeds, fertilisers and labour etc have increased. They (the BJP) created a division between the Jats and the Muslims in 2013, which helped them win western UP. But due to the efforts of RLD president Ajit Singh, the situation has changed,” claims Anil Chowdhury Debathwa, a district leader of the party.

The RLD has also raised the issue of the Centre not allowing farmers from Uttar Pradesh to enter Delhi to hold a protest rally.

“They allowed five lakh protesters who wanted a mandir. But they were scared of farmers who were fighting for their genuine demands,” Debathwa added.

The Congress has decided not to field a candidate in the seat in support of Jayant Chowdhury.

Published on March 31, 2019

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