New Delhi: In an effort to consolidate its vote bank and secure more seats from Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party is understood to be in talks with the Rashtriya Lok Dal for a possible tie-up ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Sources stated that the RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary called on BJP president JP Nadda recently to discuss the future course of action. It is understood among the possibilities discussed by the two party chiefs was an alliance ahead of the general election scheduled for next year.
The talks were also held for possible accommodation of the RLD chief in the Union cabinet while two of his party representatives in the Uttar Pradesh council of ministers, sources said.
The RLD is considered to be strong in the Jat-dominated western Uttar Pradesh. By allying with Chaudhary, the BJP hopes to consolidate the Hindu votes in the region and aim at another strong show by saffron candidates in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls in the region.
The RLD had contested recent Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party.
The Western UP region is known for Jat-Muslim polarisation, after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.
In the 2014 and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP was able to secure a majority of the seats in the region after strong backing from Jats and Hindu general castes in the region.
While in 2014 the BJP was able to secure all 18 seats in western UP, the tally came down by five seats and the saffron front was only able to secure 13 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
In an attempt to arrest the downward slide of the saffron unit in western UP and its reach amongst the Jat community, the BJP had last year appointed Bhupendra Chaudhary, a Jat leader, its state unit chief.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to seek a third term in 2024, the importance of Uttar Pradesh in the BJP's political numbers game has increased immensely. UP elects 80 MPs to the lower house of Parliament.
The BJP is desperate to hold on to its consolidated Hindu vote bank in the state which has been electing the maximum number of Lok Sabha MPs for the saffron unit in 2014 and 2019. The party hopes for a consolidated Hindu vote bank as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a third term in 2024.
With 80 Lok Sabha seats, Uttar Pradesh has been the biggest contributor to the BJP’s electoral cause. The state electorate has wholeheartedly backed the duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the last four important polls in the state, two Lok Sabha and two state Assembly polls.
The saffron unit hopes to plug the gaps in western UP by formulating an alliance with the RLD and help ensure that the saffron alliance wins more seats in 2024.
Murmurs in BJP
Though the talks between BJP and RLD may be taking place at the highest level, not everyone is seemingly happy with the meeting.
Several Jat leaders and MPs in the BJP have reportedly expressed displeasure to the top leadership of the party regarding the recent developments. Many of them are fearful that Chaudhary will be accommodated in the party at the cost of BJPs own Jat leaders.
A few of them are also fearing denial of tickets in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. This is likely to create a rift in the local organisation of the saffron unit as well and the top leadership of the BJP would need to tread carefully before taking any decision on the issue.
Sources stated that the leadership would need to find a middle path and assure sitting MPs that they will be suitably accommodated in the government or organisation if the BJP and RLD alliance materialises.
The BJP can ill afford to have friction amongst its local leaders and cadre in an effort to secure the maximum possible seats from the region.