Another blow to INDIA bloc, RLD' Jayant Chaudhary allies with BJP

NEW DELHI: In yet another blow to the opposition alliance under the INDIA bloc, Jayant Chaudhary's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has forged an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh for the 2024 Lok Sabha election. According to news agencies, as per the seat-sharing agreement, the RLD will contest two Lok Sabha seats, Baghpat and Bijnor, and has also been promised a Rajya Sabha seat.

Although it is claimed that the change of heart seems to have come after his grandfather former Prime Minister of India, Chaudhary Charan Singh was conferred the Bharat Ratna by the Narendra Modi government, there were indications that he was in talks with the BJP for a seat-sharing deal. After the formal announcement that his grandfather had been conferred the Bharat Ratna, Chaudhary, confirmed the alliance reports, saying "How can I refuse the offer now?"

Founded by Ajit Singh, son of the former PM Charan Singh in 1996 as a breakaway faction of the Janata Dal and has a base among the Jat voters in western Uttar Pradesh (UP) and some parts of Rajasthan. According to political analysts, BJP which has a relatively weaker hold over western UP may look at RLD has pockets of influence to gain in this region. Notably in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, out of the 16 seats that the BJP had lost in the state 7 were from west UP.

RLD and another alliance partner of the INDIA block, Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) have been in alliance in UP since the last general elections of 2019 in which the RLD lost all three seats it contested while the Samajwadi Party won five seats and in the 2022 state Assembly elections, SP won 111 seats out of the 347 it contested, however, the RLD won only 9 of the 33 seats it was allowed in the alliance partnership.

Differences over seat sharing between the INDIA bloc partners especially with the Congress and the regionally strong parties across the country have become a major bone of contention, as is in UP where despite several discussions, no breakthrough in seat-sharing talks between the Congress and SP has been forthcoming.


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