RLD Names Candidates For 2 Lok Sabha Seats It Got In Deal With BJP

The Rashtriya Lok Dal on Monday named candidates for the Baghpat and Bijnor Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh that were allocated to it as part of a seat-share plan with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Senior leader Rajkumar Sangwan – who has been with the RLD since it was founded by Ajit Singh – will contest the Baghpat seat, which was won by the BJP’s Satya Pal Singh in 2014 and 2019. This seat was contested by party boss Jayant Chaudhary five years ago. He lost by just under 20,000 votes.

The Baghpat seat is viewed as a family stronghold, having elected Ajit Singh a whopping seven times – from 1999 to 2009, when he contested from the RLD, and from 1989 to 1997, when he contested first as a Janata Dal candidate, then with the Congress, and finally as an independent lawmaker.  

Chandan Chauhan – the sitting MLA from UP’s Meerapur Assembly segment – will be fielded from Bijnor, which was won by Malook Nagar of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party in the 2019 election.

Mr Chauhan is the son of Sanjay Singh Chauhan, who won the Bijnor Lok Sabha seat in 2009. 

There was talk Jayant Chaudhary – a Rajya Sabha MP – could be a candidate, but that has now been put to bed. The party also named Yogendra Chaudhary as a Vidhan Parishad candidate.

Shortly after the announcement Mr Chaudhary posted on X (formerly Twitter), appealing for voters’ support for all three of his colleagues. “With your support and blessings, these three, who are keeping the flag of the Rashtriya Lok Dal high, will reach the House and talk about farmers…”

राष्ट्रीय लोकदल का झंडा बुलंद रखने वाले ये तीनों प्रतिनिधि आपके सहयोग और आशीर्वाद से सदन पहुँचकर किसान, कमेरा और विकास की बात करेंगे! https://t.co/e2P2Z0QMs3

— Jayant Singh (@jayantrld) March 4, 2024

All through last month there was furious speculation over the immediate political future of Jayant Chaudhary and his Rashtriya Lok Dal, which in January agreed a deal with the opposition INDIA bloc.

Shortly after, the centre’s decision to award a posthumous Bharat Ratna to Mr Chaudhary’s grandfather and former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh seemed to remove any doubt.

READ | Dil Jeet Liya“: RLD Leader As PM Awards Bharat Ratna To Charan Singh

Minutes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the award, Mr Chaudhary tweeted “Dil jeet liya (the heart has been won over)” and, days later, when asked about a possible alliance, told reporters, “Aaj main kis muh se inkaar karoon… (How can I deny your question today?).”

READ | “Had Limited Time To Decide”: RLD Leader On BJP Alliance Buzz

Confirmation of Mr Chaudhary’s jump – from INDIA to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance – came after party boss JP Nadda said on X, “I heartily welcome his decision to join the NDA family.”

READ | Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal Formally Joins BJP-Led NDA

The RLD is the second party – after Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) – to quit the INDIA bloc.

The loss of the RLD is perhaps not as serious as that of the JDU, which was a founding member, but Jayant Chaudhary’s reversal will undoubtedly have an impact, simply because UP – with 80 seats – is the most politically significant state for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

Of the 80 seats, the BJP won 62 in 2019. It will hope the RLD’s influence among the Jat community in western UP will help boost its score and achieve its target of 400 seats for the NDA.

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