Lucknow: The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is planning an outreach campaign to unite the Jat community with other sections in western Uttar Pradesh amid the ongoing farmers protest.
Titled ‘Bhaichara Zindabad’ the campaign — set to start later this month — will involve a social-cultural platform to perform poetries, dramas and discussions on several topics. It primarily seeks to bridge gaps between Jats and sections including Muslims, Dalits and other weaker sections.
Speaking to ThePrint, RLD vice-president Jayant Chaudhary said, “As the farmers’ protest is going on, it’s time to unite all sections against the government. Unity is our first priority. So we are planning this campaign.”
Giving details about the campaign, Chaudhary said, “An organising committee has been formed which includes campaign people from different sections and different professions. They will do meetings and finalise the dates but it is sure that the campaign will start from Muzaffarnagar. It’s a place where riots between Jats and Muslims happened in 2013.”
The Muzaffarnagar riots in August-September 2013 between the Hindu (mainly Jats) and Muslim communities left 62 dead and injured 93. Moreover, it left over 40,000 Muslims displaced.
The riots created a ‘Jats vs Muslims’ sentiment in western UP’s politics.
In the 2014 general elections, the Jats supported the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). RLD’s Ajit Chaudhary and Jayant Chaudhary lost their seats in Baghpat and Mathura, respectively. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections too, they lost.
Now, the farmers’ protest has given a ray of hope to RLD to regain its dominance in the region. Jayant did rallies with farmer leaders, including the Tikait brothers last month, looking to unite different sections against the BJP.
According to Chaudhary, this message of unity will travel from Muzaffarnagar to all the Jat dominated areas and other parts of the state. “We have shortlisted more than 25 districts for this campaign including Saharanpur, Meerut and Mathura,” he said.
“This is a time where BJP can try anything to break the unity among the masses against this government. It’s hardly 10 months to go for UP elections and people in western UP are continuously boycotting their (BJP) leaders. People of all sections are together against them so we do not want this agitation to end,” he said.
“I believe BJP will definitely try (to break the unity) but our campaign ‘Bhaichara Zindabad’ will keep everyone united,” he added.
Local artists shortlisted for campaign
An RLD leader in the campaign organising committee told ThePrint that several local artists including singers, poets, drama actors and musicians have been approached to participate in the campaign.
“By this campaign we plan to promote our local culture and unite the people also. In poetry and storytelling sessions we will talk more about unity,” said the RLD leader who didn’t wish to be named.
“Most probably we will have our first event in the middle of this month. From next month, we will do more such events every week after the panchayat polls, which is going to end in the last week of April. We will follow the Covid guidelines,” he added.
According to Aeshwarya Singh, who handles social media for RLD, online accounts have also been created for the campaign.
“We have formed Twitter handles as well as Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups for it. Those who may not be able to reach the spot can also watch it through social media. We are promoting this campaign a lot in our local groups of different towns in Western UP,” he said.
Maths behind move
The RLD had earlier launched ‘Gaon Chalo Abhiyan’, under which Jayant Chaudhary hosted over two dozen meetings in western UP villages. The Bhaichara Zindabad campaign seeks to build on that outreach.
A source in the RLD highlighted the political mathematics behind this campaign.
“Jats constitute around 6-7 per cent of the state’s population. They make up about 17 per cent of the electorate in 18 Lok Sabha seats in western UP and hold influence in about 100-120 assembly seats in the region,” he said.
“Muslims, on the other hand, are over 25 per cent of the population in western UP. Dalits are over 20 per cent in western UP. RLD already has an alliance with Samajwadi Party here. So we are trying to bring Jat, Muslim, Dalits and Yadavs together. This combination carries more than 55 per cent of the total population,” the source added.
However, BJP spokesperson Manoj Mishra said, “RLD can do whatever campaign they want but everyone in the rural and urban areas are with us. People in the outskirts get so many advantages due to the Modi and Yogi governments’ schemes that they can’t even fall in the trap of opposition. We are sure that these sort of campaigns won’t work.”