BJP Approaches INDIA’s Rashtriya Lok Dal With 7-Seat Offer: Sources

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On January 19 the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal announced an alliance (File).

New Delhi:

The Bharatiya Janata Party has offered the Rashtriya Lok Dal – which has substantial support among Jats and farmers in western Uttar Pradesh – five parliamentary seats and two ministerial berths to get Jayant Chaudhary to dump Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, sources told NDTV Wednesday.

The RLD and the SP – long-time allies and members of the troubled INDIA bloc – last month agreed a deal of their own, under which the former will contest seven seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

Sources said the BJP has offered the RLD two Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha seats, in addition to two ministerial berths in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government. The RLD, unconfirmed reports indicate, is holding out for at least three more Lok Sabha seats and a union minister berth.

Sources also told NDTV the RLD is demanding a posthumous Bharat Ratna for former Prime Minister and UP Chief Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, whose son founded the party in 1996 after breaking from his father’s Janata Dal. Jayant Chaudhary, a Rajya Sabha MP, is Charan Singh’s grandson.

RLD leader Rajiv Malik has rubbished these reports, calling them “useless rumours” and urging his colleagues to put their heads down and prep for a general election now just weeks away.

“Our honourable Jayant Choudhary ji will not take any wrong decision. There is no talk of joining the BJP… Choudharji will not join the BJP. These are all just false and useless rumours,” he said.

Mr Yadav’s Samajwadi Party has also spoken out; General Secretary Shivpal Yadav told a Hindi TV channel, “Jayant Chaudhary will not go anywhere” and accused the BJP of “spreading confusion”.

“BJP is doing work of creating confusion. He (Jayant Chaudhary) is not going anywhere… will remain with INDIA bloc and will help in defeating BJP. I know him… he is a secular person,” Mr Yadav said.

News the RLD is shopping for more seats comes after Akhilesh Yadav confirmed an alliance with the party in a social media post on January 19; “Congratulations to everyone on the Rashtriya Lok Dal-Samajwadi Party alliance. Let us all unite for victory!” the former UP Chief Minister had said.

The Samajwadi Party had agreed to give the RLD seven seats, most of which are in its stronghold of western UP, sources told news agency ANI last month. This deal was after the Samajwadi Party and the Congress (both INDIA bloc members) met in Delhi to discuss a seat-sharing deal of their own.

READ | Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal Form Alliance Ahead Of Lok Sabha Polls

Confirmation of this came from the SP’s chief spokesperson, Rajendra Chaudhary, who told news agency PTI of a “cordial alliance” and said the RLD will get seven seats and 11 will go to the Congress.

Days later, though, there were reports the RLD and Congress were unhappy with their share. The Congress, PTI reported, wanted 22 seats (double the number offered) and the RLD one more.

UP has 80 Lok Sabha seats – by far the most of any state – and is crucial to any party (or alliance) hoping to form the government at the centre. The western part of the state has 29 seats.

With input from agencies

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