Spotlight on west UP as SP, RLD to hold joint rally in Meerut on Dec 7

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Spotlight on west UP as SP, RLD to hold joint rally in Meerut on Dec 7
© Provided by The Times of India

LUCKNOW: The communally sensitive west UP region is set to come under a sharp political spotlight with the Jayant Chaudhary led-RLD and Samajwadi Party (SP) calling a joint rally in Meerut on December 7, days after the two outfits announced their intention to forge a pre-poll pact to take on the might of ruling BJP in the 2022 UP elections. The proposed rally is being timed after the Centre annulled the three farm laws, which were at the centre of a raging farmers’ protests.

Top sources in the RLD confirmed that the rally, scheduled to be organised in Dabathua block of Meerut, will be attended by SP boss Akhilesh Yadav. This comes in sharp contrast with the 2018 Kairana and Noorpur by-elections when Akhilesh had decided against campaigning to arrest the chances of communal polarisation in the west UP region. The SP-RLD alliance had then defeated the BJP much to the chagrin of the saffron brass.

Significantly, the Dabathua block happens to come under Siwalkhas assembly seat, which was won by BJP’s Jitendra Pal Singh who defeated SP’s Ghulam Mohammad by a margin of little over 11,000 votes. RLD’s Yashveer Singh, a Jat, had come at third position, cornering around 20% of the total votes polled. Siwalkhas falls under Baghpat parliamentary constituency, which had been the stronghold of the RLD until 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the BJP knocked off the then Ajit Singh-led outfit, wiping it off completely. The RLD could not regain the seat in 2019 Lok Sabha elections even as BJP’s Satyapal Singh defeated Jayant by a margin of 23,000 votes.

The proposed rally of the SP-RLD combine comes even as the BJP gears up for a rally in Saharanpur scheduled to be addressed by Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday. The BJP sources said that the home minister is expected to turn the heat on opposition from the district, which also houses Islamic seminary of Deoband. The recent row over Akhilesh’s comment comparing Muslim league leader and Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah with Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel had only armed the saffron brigade to fire nasty salvos at the SP chief, accusing him of resorting to minority appeasement. The BJP has also been harking on the issue of mass exodus of Hindu families in west UP during the previous SP regime.

Sources said that the SP-RLD rally could set the tone for two political parties, which have been seeking resurrection in west UP after a brutal decimation at the hands of the BJP in 2017 assembly elections. Of the 71 assembly seats, straddling across 14 districts, the BJP had won 51 seats, while SP and BSP were limited to 16 seats and one seat respectively. In fact, of the five seats in Meerut, four were won by the BJP while the lone Meerut sadar seat was bagged by SP’s Rafiq Ansari in 2017.

The rally also attains much political pertinence even as the SP positions itself assertively against the BJP while rallying smaller outfits behind it. The BJP, too, has been flexing its muscles to take on the opposition through amalgamation of Jats, Gujjar and Dalits in the region, especially after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots that left the then SP dispensation in a quandary.

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