After Amit Shah's meet in Delhi, BJP takes khap route to win over Jats

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After Amit Shah's meet in Delhi, BJP takes khap route to win over Jats
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LUCKNOW: Even as Union home minister and BJP’s chief strategist Amit Shah hit the alleyways of communally restive Kairana and then Hindutva nerve centre of Mathura for a door-to-door campaigning, the saffron outfit has set out its key Jat leaders to have truck with ‘khaps’, which are known to exert significant social influence within the community they represent.

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From sending its top netas for an intense ground-level campaign to engaging with socio-politically influential khaps — that’s the BJP’s template for a deeper caste consolidation in the politically sensitive west UP region.

BJP sources said that the saffron camp has harped on all possible measures to synthesize its tried and tested social matrix comprising Jat, Gujjar and Dalits, besides banking on rallying Thakur and land-holding Tyagi upper caste around it to take on a belligerent SP-RLD combine.

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Sources said that BJP’s Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjiv Balyan has already held a detailed round of discussion with the ‘Balyan Khap’, which is headed by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Naresh Tikait, who is brother of the union’s face and spokesperson Rakesh Tikait. Rakesh was one of the important faces of farmers’ protest against the three farm laws at the Ghazipur border — the tremors of which were felt in the west UP region also.

It was only recently that Naresh backed out from his statement given in support of the SP-RLD combine, which has been positioning itself strongly against the BJP. Besides Balyan, the BJP has put on duty all its influential Jat leaders, including west UP in charge Captain Abhimanyu, Baghpat MP Satya Pal Singh, besides west UP regional president Mohit Beniwal to reach out to Jats and Gujjar, which have sizeable electoral presence in the region. “Our party leaders have been carrying out rigorous campaigning in the region. We would not leave any stone unturned,” said UP BJP spokesperson Alok Awasthi, who has been camping in the west UP region for the past one month.

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Sources said that the party leaders had been citing how Jan Sangh, the forerunner political organisation of the present-day BJP, had come in support of Chaudhary Charan Singh, the grandfather of RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary, after he quit the Congress in 1967 — the year he became UP’s CM for the first time. At the same time, the BJP sought to address the longstanding concerns of the Jat community, including the reservation provision in the Central services.

Political analysts said that the BJP’s all-out attempts to woo Jats and Gujjars could potentially needle the SP-RLD combine which needs to strike a balance between Jat and Muslims who have been on palpable acrimonious terms since the Muzaffarnagar riots that broke out in 2013, during the previous SP regime.

RLD national secretary, Anil Dubey said that the alliance partners faced no trouble at all. “Our party leaders are meeting every community and carrying out rigorous campaigns,” he said. The RLD sources said that Jayant has been working overtime by carrying out ‘bhaichara’ campaign to fill the chasm between the Jats and Muslims for the past few years.

SP national spokesperson, Abdul Hafiz Gandhi said that the BJP was feeling scared and was therefore trying to polarize the elections. “Why did they hold a meeting in Delhi and not in any district in west UP,” he questioned in an apparent reference to Shah’s meeting with Jat leaders at the residence of party West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma. He maintained that the factors which played a key in BJP’s three straight wins since 2014 will not be in place this time.

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