Lucknow: The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the regional powerhouse in western Uttar Pradesh, has decided to release its assembly elections manifesto way before polls are announced, in a bid to pre-empt “any polarisation attempts by the BJP”.
According to sources in the party, the manifesto will be ready within the next two months. Assembly elections are expected to be held in Uttar Pradesh sometime early next year.
RLD president Jayant Chaudhary told ThePrint that the party will incorporate inputs from farmers protesting at the Ghazipur border into its manifesto.
“Our manifesto committee already had one meeting with farmers at the Ghazipur border, most of whom are from UP,” he said. “They told us about their needs, their expectations from a political party. We will hold some more meetings with them and include their suggestions in our manifesto.”
He added that the committee is planning to meet health and education experts, “so that we can include some pointers regarding these important factors as well”.
A senior RLD functionary told ThePrint that preparing the manifesto way before the polls is part of a strategy to counter the ruling BJP.
“Our party is clear on its agenda — the alliance with the SP and we do not want to give space to BJP in western UP,” the functionary said.
“Before the BJP starts its polarisation, we will have a clear cut manifesto out in the public to counter it. Earlier we used to release the manifesto just before elections but now we have changed our strategy to counter the BJP’s narrative.”
Farmers issues to be in focus
RLD spokesperson Anupam Mishra told ThePrint that the bulk of the manifesto will focus on farmer issues.
“We have formed a lok-sankalp samiti (a committee for framing the manifesto) that will take inputs from several sections of society,” he said.
“Farmers will have a major role in the coming elections, and so we are focussing more on their issues. We will include even the issues they face in daily life like for example, electricity supply to them and issues related to their agriculture fields. We will cover every aspect of their life and livelihood in our manifesto.”’
A second party functionary told ThePrint that the manifesto may be unveiled by the end of October this year.
“We are planning to launch it three to four months before the elections. It will be called Janta ka Manifesto,” he said. “As of now, we have to finalise our seat-sharing pact with the SP. As soon as that happens, we will include local issues of the seats that we are allotted.”
According to party sources, the RLD is looking to capitalise on growing resentment among western UP farmers, especially Jats, against the BJP government in the state over the farm laws.
The party had recently even launched its ‘Bhaichara Zindabad’ campaign to unite Jats with Muslims and other communities in the region.
A third senior RLD leader said the campaign involves a social-cultural platform to perform poetry, drama and discussions on several topics.
“It primarily seeks to bridge the gap between Jats and others including Muslims, Dalits and other weaker sections,” he said. “But our main focus now is to bring a concrete and attractive manifesto that will help us to offer them our abilities and planning.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)