Lucknow: A pre-poll alliance between the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Samajwadi Party (SP) has been confirmed, RLD president Jayant Singh Chaudhary told media today. After the two leaders met in Lucknow, Mr Chaudhary said a formal announcement will be made soon. Talks on seat-sharing are in the final stages with Akhilesh Yadav, he added. The RLD chief also strongly denied any arrangement with the BJP. “No question of going with BJP,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, both the leaders had tweeted pictures with each other hinting that a formal announcement could be expected soon. Mr Chaudhary tweeted a picture of him along with Akhilesh Yadav with the words “Badhte Kadam (advancing steps)” while Mr Yadav shared a picture of them shaking hands with a short message, “With Shri Jayant Chaudhary, towards change.
The RLD chief had earlier said that a decision could be expected by the end of this month. “By this month-end, we (RLD and Samajwadi Party) will take the decision and will come together,” RLD chief had recently told news agency ANI.
The two parties contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in an alliance with Mayawati’s BSP. An alliance between the two for state elections early next year is aimed at consolidating Muslim and Jat votes in the crucial western UP seats. Relations between the two communities were strained after the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, which experts say helped the BJP take a lead in the region.
But a prolonged farmer’s protest in the area appears to have brought the two communities back together again – something Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary want to capitalise on. Sources in the SP have previously said the party is likely to concede between 30 – 50 seats to the RLD .
Western UP has about 100 of UP’s 403 Vidhan Sabha seats. In the 2017 election, the BJP won 76 of the 100 seats, an on-par performance with the rest of the state getting the BJP a big victory. A few days ago, the BJP announced that Home Minister Amit Shah will personally guide strategy at the grass-root level for the BJP in western UP.