Asserting that the BJP’s alleged “apathy” towards protesting farmers will hurt it in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary on Sunday said “artificial issues” such as “love jihad” and “cow terror” will not work as issues of development will win in the elections.
“Love jihad, cow terror, Kairana exodus and other useless artificial issues will be rejected; healthcare, education and balanced development will win (in the polls),” he asserted.
The Opposition in UP has been alleging that cow vigilante violence is on the rise in the state, a charge denied by the BJP.
As the focus shifts from the West Bengal polls earlier this year to the high-stakes election battle in Uttar Pradesh in 2022, newly-appointed RLD chief Chaudhary asserted that his party will not allow a communally polarised campaign to ruin the state in the run up to the assembly polls.
In an interview with PTI, Mr Chaudhary, who took over as RLD chief after his father Chaudhary Ajit Singh’s death last month, said his party and the Samajwadi Party have a good rapport and a strong working relationship.
He said details need to be worked out for a formal alliance for the polls.
Asked if a ”Mahagathbandhan” or a grand alliance is needed in UP to take on the BJP and whether the BSP and the Congress would be part of such an alliance, Mr Chaudhary said, for him, issues come first and an understanding of those needs to be built between all alliance partners.
“Who can be accommodated depends on who is honestly open to working together on the common framework,” the 42-year-old leader said.
On whether the Congress would play a significant role in the assembly polls despite its poor showing in the panchayat elections, Mr Chaudhary said he would not like to comment on the Congress’ plans and chances.
Asked about the speculation over UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s political future as Chief Minister and reports about cabinet reshuffle in the state, Mr Chaudhary said the BJP is just trying to divert attention and create an illusion of dialogue to manage the disgruntled elements in the party.
“Social engineering doesn’t come about by tinkering with one or two leaders at the top. The fact is that BJP’s Uttar Pradesh government has been caught in a caste-based matrix and has not delivered jobs, economic growth, and efficient governance to people,” he alleged.
The state government’s Covid response has been atrocious, and no one can forget the scenes of dead bodies in the Ganga, he added.
“Now, after four-and-a-half years to create rumours of change in leadership is a poor attempt to shift focus from failures,” Mr Chaudhary said.
Talking about the farm laws protests and whether they would be a key issue in the polls, he said farmers will and should be the biggest poll issue in our country, and asserted that as a class they have been denied their rights for far too long.
“The Centre’s new laws are prescribing a takeover of the entire market and value chain by the private sector and the withdrawal of the government from procurement and subsequent monopolisation will hurt producer and consumer interests,” the RLD chief said.
The “apathy and insensitive” attitude towards the protesting farmers will continue to haunt and hurt the BJP in polls, he claimed.
Asked about the electoral chances of the Opposition against the BJP in UP, Mr Chaudhary said “when the nation is grieving and hurting, the Hindi heartland also will respond appropriately”.