Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh’s principal opposition party, the Samajwadi Party (SP), has finalised its alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the regional powerhouse in the western part of the state, for the upcoming assembly elections.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav met RLD president Jayant Chaudhary at the former’s headquarters in Lucknow Tuesday.
Akhilesh later tweeted a photo of them with the caption: “Heading towards change with Jayant Chaudhary.”
Shortly afterwards, the RLD leader also tweeted a photo of the meeting with a similar caption.
Speaking to ThePrint, RLD state president Masood Ahmad said both leaders will address a joint press conference later this week, adding that the seat-sharing formula will be released later.
An RLD leader who did not want to be named said his party may end up with around 35 seats. “The alliance deal has been finalised for between 35-40 seats. About 36 or 37 may be the exact number,” the leader said. “We were demanding 45 seats but SP was ready to give only 25. But both leaders (Akhilesh and Jayant), after having a conversation, decided to settle on around 35 seats.”
There may be a possibility that five or six SP candidates will contest on the RLD’s symbol in western UP, he added.
Farmer anger raises RLD hopes
The RLD has been on the decline since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when Jayant and his father, the late Ajit Singh, lost in Mathura and Baghpat respectively. They also lost in the 2019 parliamentary elections.
The RLD also won just one seat in the 2017 UP assembly elections.
The party, however, has found renewed hope following the farmers’ agitation against the three contentious farm laws, which were scrapped by PM Narendra Modi last week.
Over the past few months, Jayant had been holding rallies to support the agitation. The RLD has also been trying to unite different sections of society, through initiatives such as its ‘Bhaichara Zindabad’ (long live brotherhood) campaign to unite Jats and Muslims in western UP.
For the SP, the alliance gives it a fillip in western UP.
“We now have RLD in the west, Rajbhar’s SBSP and the Janwadi Party in the east, and the Mahan Dal in the central part of UP as our alliance partners,” an SP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
“We are fully confident of winning the 2022 elections. The Jat vote is above 20 per cent on several seats in western UP. If they combine with Muslims and Yadavs, we can get at least 40 per cent of the votes there,” the SP leader added.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)