LUCKNOW: Amid growing suspense over reports of RLD-BJP tie-up talks for
elections, Jayant Chaudhary-led
Rashtriya Lok Dal
) on Thursday clarified it was “still” with opposition INDIA bloc and there was no question of diverting from the stand “if given due respect” by the alliance partners.
“That’s all we can say as of now,” RLD national general secretary (organisation) Trilok Tyagi told TOI, refusing to comment on reports of switching sides in favour of BJP-led NDA.
Sources said BJP has kept doors ajar while sending alliance feelers to RLD even as the Jat-dominated outfit, which has a significant presence in west UP, grapples with concerns in the party vis-a-vis ally Samajwadi Party. Many RLD functionaries feel that SP is making unilateral decisions on seat-sharing and “imposing them” on allies.
“There needs to be mutual respect between allies. We are here to abide by the alliance dharma without making unreasonable demands,” said a senior RLD functionary.
Sources said it all started on Jan 19 when SP chief Akhilesh Yadav posted a photograph of him shaking hands with Jayant on his social media handle and captioned it “RLD aur SP ke gathbandhan ki sabko badhai…jeet ke liye sabhi ek jut ho jayein…jut jayein. (Congratulations to all for the alliance between RLD and SP… let’s all unite for victory… let’s come together)”. Minutes later Jayant reposted it, affirming his party’s alliance with SP, which unilaterally announced seven seats for RLD.
Hectic political discussions ensued as SP pressed for fielding its candidates on RLD ticket on at least three seats — Kairana, Amroha and Muzaffarnagar. This left RLD with just four seats (Baghpat, Mathura, Meerut and Bijnor). Upset with the offer, Jayant purportedly argued that it would constrain him and his party workers, who had been working hard for the past decade to resurrect the party. He insisted on being given two more seats on which SP may field its candidates on RLD ticket.
Akhilesh, however, did not answer in the affirmative. Even as Jayant remained silent, BJP sensed an opportunity. Sources said a high-ranking BJP functionary then reached out to Jayant and signalled a similar offer (of four Lok Sabha seats) from the saffron camp. Jayant turned back to his drawing board and convened a high-level meeting. Sources said RLD leadership deliberated on two questions: One, should it break alliance with SP for “satta sukh” (sake of power)? Two, whether to continue alliance with SP while bolstering its position for 2027 UP assembly elections.
Sources said RLD brass was in a fix while trying to balance opportunism and political integrity. Jayant, meanwhile, threw another dice by postponing the unveiling of a statue of his father and party founder Ajit Singh in Baghpat on Feb 11. The decision was seen as a prelude to RLD striking an alliance with BJP and getting the statue unveiled by a senior saffron party functionary — perhaps
PM Narendra Modi
Political experts said RLD has been bargaining hard with SP since 2022 assembly elections when it won eight seats in west UP. The party also added Khatauli to its kitty by winning it in bypoll. At the same time, RLD stepped up efforts to consolidate its base among Muslims, who have traditionally been voting for SP.
All eyes are now on
polls where 10 seats from UP are falling vacant on Apr 2. It will be followed by elections for the legislative council in which 13 seats will fall vacant. RLD may naturally search for greener pastures, experts said.