National

‘Muzaffarnagar is where the BJP’s run will come to an end’

Poornima Joshi Muzaffarnagar | Updated on March 26, 2019 Published on March 25, 2019

RLD President Chowdhary Ajit Singh

 

As the nominations close for the first phase of Lok Sabha polls on Monday, a challenge goes out from Muzaffarnagar, the epicentre of the electoral battle which set the momentum for the BJP’s sweep of the politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh in 2014. Five years later, the Mahagathbandhan and its 80-year-old protagonist in the heart of western UP, RLD President Chowdhary Ajit Singh, are exhorting the electorate in all the corner meetings and public addresses to “root out” the BJP. Singh spoke to BusinessLine on the contest in UP being bipolar – between the BJP and the Mahagathbandhan of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the RLD – the importance of the caste arithmetic, and why ganna aur gai (sugarcane and cow) will seal the fate of the BJP in western UP. Excerpts:

You did not win a single seat in 2014. How is this election different?

The BJP managed to divide our society in the riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013. Since then, we have put everything in our resources to bring about communal amity and restore peace in the region. I have shifted from Baghpat to Muzaffarnagar to make a point — that you can fool some people some times, but not all the people all the time. We are basically farmers, and the reality is that the BJP has destroyed agriculture in India. In western UP, the farmers have not been paid for two years. There has been no increase in prices. Because of the BJP’s inefficiency, total lack of understanding, and an over-reliance on religious issues for the sole purpose of winning elections, farmers are suffering. They capitalised on divisions in the society in the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections but they have been found out now.

Muzaffarnagar is where it all started — the riots, communal divisions and politics of hatred. This is where it will all end. The message will go from here to the whole of the country and the whole world. Communal amity has been restored here.

Do you not think that the militaristic pitch after the air strikes against Pakistan have consolidated the BJP’s position and buried other issues, including farm distress and rural crisis?

That is what they would have us believe. But people now have a sense of reality. The BJP is trying to create false narratives but they underestimate the common sense of the common people. The BJP believes it can capture the media, especially the television which — I am sorry to have to point this out — has found the easiest and the cheapest way to operate – they call five people and manufacture issues to suit the ruling party narrative.

But let them and the big media do what they like. The fact is that in western UP, they cannot pit Hindus against Muslims any more, because we are all farmers here and know what they have done with our sugarcane payments.

I tell people in all my meetings to stop watching TV and analyse the political situation objectively.

The Congress has not put up any candidate in Muzaffarnagar but Mayawati has accused it of spreading confusion. Your views?

The reality is that the Mahagathbandhan is the only force fighting the BJP in UP. People have made up their mind to defeat the BJP and they know that only the Mahagathbandhan can do it.

Published on March 25, 2019
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