Lucknow: It seemed to be a picture perfect till the results started tumbling out on Thursday March 10.
The Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance came a cropper in western UP, upsetting all calculations.
According to sources, one of the main reasons for the below expectation performance of the alliance in an area that was the focal point of the famers’ agitation against the ruling BJP, was faulty candidate selection and swapping of candidates.
“The Samajwadi Party made RLD ‘adopt’ some of its candidate and gave its own party symbol to some RLD followers.
“This created confusion in the minds of voters who did not like SP’s conduct. Jats voted for RLD only on seats where it had candidates on its own symbol but did not go for SP candidates. They also did not vote for RLD leaders who contested on SP symbol. We though that the voters would not realise this but we were wrong,” said a RLD leader who spoke to IANS on condition of anonymity.
Moreover, another factor that made Jats hostile to SP were the memories of Muzaffarnagar riots that were repeatedly raked up by BJP campaigners.
For Jayant Chaudhary, the stakes were high in these elections because it was his first election after the death of his father Ajit Singh. He had the onus of proving himself by bringing the party back into reckoning by winning as many seats as possible and this is why he is left no stone unturned in the polls.
However, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav made it a point to convey to voters in every election meeting that he was visibly a junior partner and this did not go down well with those who were rooting for the RLD.
The RLD’s electoral history shows that its best ever performance in terms of number of seats won in the UP Assembly elections, was in 2002 when it won 14 of the 38 seats when it contested in alliance with the BJP.
Its vote share in the seats contested was also the highest at 26.82 per cent in 2002 though the vote share against the total valid votes polled was only 2.48 per cent, which was lower than the vote share of 3.70 per cent the party had got in 2007 elections when it won 10 of the 254 seats on its own.
The party went solo in 2017 Assembly polls and could manage to win only one seat, that is, Chaprauli in Baghpat but lone MLA Sahendra Singh Ramala later joined the BJP in 2018.
A senior RLD functionary said that the party leadership would discuss the election results threadbare to identify where it went wrong in convincing people.
There has been no reaction from the Samajwadi Party yet.