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The Hindu
The Hindu
Anuj Kumar

Rajya Sabha polls | SP picks RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary as joint candidate

After a flip-flop, the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Thursday announced that the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) president Jayant Singh Chaudhary would be the joint candidate of the alliance partners for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election.

After the SP announced the decision through its Twitter handle, Mr. Chaudhary tweeted in Hindi: “Vishwas ke saath aage badhenge, naujawan, kamera, kisan ke samman main” (We will move with confidence, respecting the (voices) of youth, workers and farmers.”

With this, the SP has announced the three candidates that it can send to the Upper House on the basis of its strength in the Assembly.

On Wednesday, the SP announced support to Independent candidate Kapil Sibal, who left the Congress, and fielded senior party leader and former Rajya Sabha member, Javed Ali Khan.

The SP has 111 MLAs in the Assembly, while its alliance partners RLD and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party have eight and six members respectively.

Till late on Wenesday night, SP and RLD sources were saying that Mr. Chaudhary would not be sent to Rajya Sabha. Instead, Dimple Yadav, former Kannauj MP and wife of party president Akhilesh Yadav, was being named as the third candidate.

While RLD leaders said their leader had never sought the Rajya Sabha seat, an SP spokesperson told  The Hindu that Mr. Chaudhary had been offered the Rampur Lok Sabha seat that has recently been vacated by senior party leader Azam Khan.

On Thursday, a senior party source admitted that Mr. Yadav was dilly-dallying on the promise that he made before the Uttar Pradesh election. “Mr. Yadav was not available over the phone for four-five days and then he made an offer to Mr. Chaudhary to contest on SP ticket, which no party president would accept. He is no Sibal,” he said.

Party sources said it was only when it was made clear to the SP leadership that the BJP was still interested in the RLD and that “Mr. Chaudhary could be sent to the Rajya Sabha by the Congress from Rajasthan” that the relationship returned on track. The RLD is an alliance partner of the Congress in Rajasthan.

Observers said the RLD and the SP performed below their expectations during the polls and some faultlines were bound to emerge.

In the run-up to Assembly election, Mr. Chaudhary had said he did not want to enter State politics and would like to raise farmers’ issues at the national level. It was construed that he would go to the Rajya Sabha. The decision was not endorsed by a section of the party that wanted him to first become the voice of farmers in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. They felt Mr. Chaudhary did not want to make Mr. Yadav insecure and were not sure whether the SP leader would respect the promise.

On Wednesday, the social media was abuzz with Mr. Yadav ignoring the claim of west Uttar Pradesh leaders such as Mr. Chaudhary and Imran Masood while selecting the Rajya Sabha candidates.

“Sending Ms. Yadav would have added to the parivarvadi  image of the party that the BJP loves to exploit. Unlike Sibal, Jayant is our man who stood for the cause of farmers and Muslims,” said an SP leader from west Uttar Pradesh. “Mr. Chaudhary’s selection will send the right message among Jats, many of whom are still wary of the Yadav family because of some unsavoury incidents of the past,” he added.

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