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Poor performance in UP to make RLD irrelevant?

Updated: Mar 15, 2017, 17:03 PM IST

Saurabh Katkurwar and Anurag Dey/IANS

Poor performance in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections may have shut the doors on the future prospects of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) for making a comeback in either state or national politics, at least for a decade, say experts.

The reasons being its traditional Jat voters changing sides towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and people`s dislike for dynastic politics.

Contesting 284 of the 403 seats, mostly in the "Jatland" of western UP, it could manage only a solitary win in Chhaprauli in Baghpat district.

In 2012, it had won nine seats garnering 2.33 per cent vote share, which slumped to 1.8 per cent in this election.

With Jats accounting for nearly 18 per cent of the population, western UP is considered to be an RLD bastion, with Baghpat as the epicentre.

Pointing to RLD founder Ajit Singh, son of late Prime Minister Choudhary Charan Singh, political analyst Ashok Malik said cult-based and dynastic politics was fast losing appeal with the voters.

"In addition, the RLD was drifting away from the grassroot issues. I do not see a bright future for this party. It is nearing end," Malik told IANS.

Psephologist Yashwant Deshmukh said intense campaigning by the BJP succeeded in swaying the voters away from the RLD.

"It is true that Jats were upset with the BJP initially and seemed inclined toward the RLD. However, an intense campaign by the BJP, particularly by its President Amit Shah, changed the game," said Deshmukh, adding that Shah`s audio message appealing to the Jats, released 72 hours before the polling day, played a crucial role.

Deshmukh, Chief Editor of Cvoter (Center for Voting Opinions and Trends in Election Research), felt that it would be very difficult for the party to regain lost ground.

"Ajit Singh has always been seen aligning with those in power, which may have made him relevant. However, the situation is not favourable for him now. It can cause the downfall of the party," he added.

Yashpal Malik, President of the All India Jat Reservation Agitation Committee, said the RLD would have no role to play in their demand for reservation.

"Even if the RLD wins, it will not make any impact on our demand of reservation. So, the voters in western UP must have cast their votes in favour of the BJP, as being in power at the Centre, the party can solve our issues," Malik said.

The RLD, on the other hand, blamed the BJP`s polarisation of voters for its defeat.

Senior leader of RLD Anil Dubey told IANS that the issues of development did not find any place during the election.

"We contested the elections on the issue of development. We have truth on our agenda, but it appears that lies were sold. The BJP resorted to polarisation, which got them victory," Dubey said.

The party would introspect to see where it went wrong and spring back into action, he added.