The Rashtriya Lok Dal will be joining the NDA, party chief Jayant Chaudhary made it clear today, indicating that the deal is sealed with workers and leaders on board. All that remains is the formal announcement, which can be expected shortly after the birth anniversary of his father Ajit Singh, which is being marked today.
Asked about reports that his party leaders are not too happy about the decision, Mr Chaudhary said, “I took this decision after speaking to all the MLAs and workers of my party. There was no big planning behind this decision, we had to take this decision within a short time because of the situation”.
“We want to do something good for the people,” he added.
#WATCH |Delhi: On joining NDA, RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary says, “…I took this decision after speaking to all the MLAs and workers of my party. There was no big planning behind this decision, we had to take this decision within a short time because of the situation. We want to… pic.twitter.com/oCokYUX8gA
— ANI (@ANI) February 12, 2024
This was the clearest speech from Mr Chaudhary on the subject that had kept the Opposition, especially Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi party on tenterhooks so far. On Friday, asked whether he was ready to join the BJP, the 45-year-old had said, “Is there anything left to be done? How can I refuse?”
While the BJP had made its offer to the RLD that week, promising a Rajya Sabha seat, two Lok Sabha seats (Baghpat and Bijnor likely) and two ministerial berths from Uttar Pradesh, Mr Chaudhary had been on the verge of acceptance. Then the BJP sweetened the deal on Friday with a Bharat Ratna for Chaudhary Charan Singh, former Prime Minister and the grandfather of Mr Chaudhary.
“Dil jeet liya mera (They have won my heart),” Jayant Chaudhary had said on the occasion, after which he was asked whether he was ready to join the BJP.
The defection of the RLD on the heels of Nitish Kumar in Bihar will reinforce the perception that the INDIA bloc is a united front and give credence to the BJP’s divided house claims. Besides Nitish Kumar,
Arvind Kejriwal with his Aam Aadmi Party and Mamata Banerjee with her Trinamool Congress have already done the heavy lifting.
The change of camp by the RLD is also likely to cost the bloc a chunk of Jat votes in western Uttar Pradesh. While the party may not have the heft to win too many seats on its own, the support of Jats can make the difference between victory and defeat in a handful of seats including Baghpat, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Aligarh, Agra and Moradabad.
Western Uttar Pradesh has 29 of the state’s 80 seats. The RLD was offered seven by the Samajwadi Party last month, but the lack of clarity over the constituencies had created confusion and uncertainty in the RLD ranks.
The Samajwadi Party, which has been in denial so far, is yet to comment on the RLD chief’s remarks.