RLD's Jayant Chaudhary is in an alliance with Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party.
Jayant Chaudhary, the Jat leader with a huge support base in western Uttar Pradesh and has formed an alliance with Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, today refuted allegations that he might -- now or later -- change camp and side with the BJP. "Am I coin that would flip so fast?" he declared this afternoon at Muzaffarnagar's Khatauli constituency, answering perceptions that have grown after Union minister Amit Shah's yesterday's meeting with a group of influential Jat leaders.
The BJP, the Rashtriya Lok Dal leader told NDTV in an exclusive interview today, is "playing break-up politics".
"It was not an offer to me... The BJP is just trying to pull a political stunt as they do at election time. Ask them how much importance they have given to the farmers over the last five years. Ask the farmers who have attended that meeting -- did any of them side with the farmers when they were suffering? Are they there to skim off the cream when in government, or are they there to fight the battle of the common man?" Mr Chaudhary told NDTV.
He also gave an emphatic denial to concerns that he might join hands with the BJP when the elections are over.
"These are baseless comments. We have been with the farmers from Day one. We have faced police batons. I have not said anything to raise such doubts. I'm not going to change sides," he said.
The talk of a possible RLD-BJP combine started after Mr Shah's meeting yesterday. BJP MP Parvesh Verma, at whose house the meeting took place, reported that Mr Shah had said
Jayant Chaudhary has "chosen the wrong path".
"On Jayant Chaudhary, he (Amit Shah) said that there are many possibilities after the polls. For now, he has chosen a party. People of the Jat community will speak to Jayant. BJP's doors are always open for him," news agency ANI quoted Mr Verma as saying.
Soon after, Jayant Choudhary tweeted a rebuff. "The invitation is not for me, give it to those 700 farmer families whose houses you have destroyed!!," Mr Chaudhary posted in Hindi, citing the farmers deaths during the long protest against farm laws.
Western Uttar Pradesh has emerged as an area of concern for the BJP with upset farmers turning away from the party. The area, which has supported the BJP through the elections of 2014, 2017 and 2019, go to polls in the first phase on February 10.
But over the last weeks, as alliance tickets were distributed, there was unrest and opposition in the RLD over the tickets that went to Samajwadi Party. There was talk of Jats being shortchanged, in sign that could spell trouble for the alliance.
Mr Chaudhary dismissed it as normal.
"You will see everywhere -- there is some unhappiness and disappointment after ticket distribution. But that doesn't last beyond a day or two. Even now, everyone has pitched in for work and the campaign is on in full spate," he said.
Asked about the perception that the BJP is trying to bring Muzaffarnagar into its grip through communal politics, Mr Chaudhary said the area is the site of "farmers' revolution".
"It had a part to play in every single farmer agitation. It is the place where Chaudhary Charan Singh worked. So the people will not allow it to fall prey to politics of hate. You will see, when the results are declared, every seat in Muzaffarnagar will elect candidates of the alliance," he said.