By cautiously switching alliances over the space of two years, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has ensured a presence in both Houses of Parliament as well as the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Council.

As a result, the party now has ministers both in the Center and UP governments, a stark contrast from two years ago, when the western UP-based party was at its lowest strength in the political arena, without a single elected member in any House. of Parliament or UP.

In the 2017 UP Assembly elections, the RLD had returned with only one MLA — Sahendra Singh Ramala from Chhaprauli in Baghpat district. But a year later, he joined the BJP, as a result of which the party was left without any elected representative.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the RLD, in alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and BSP, contested three seats in UP, but could not win any.

While the BSP walked out of the alliance after the Lok Sabha elections, the RLD continued to tag along with the SP, contesting 33 seats in the 2022 UP Assembly elections, and winning eight. The party later increased its strength to nine by winning the Khatauli bypoll, again in alliance with the SP.

Festive offer

In July 2022, RLD president Jayant Chaudhary, who had lost Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and 2019, got elected to the Rajya Sabha from UP with SP support. The RLD then went ahead and joined the Opposition INDIA bloc. But ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, it left the alliance to join the BJP-led NDA. Soon after joining the NDA, the RLD had its lone MLA — three-time Dalit MLA Anil Kumar from Purkazi in Muzaffarnagar district — inducted in the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet.

Around the same time, the BJP backed the RLD’s Yogesh Chaudhary’s election to UP’s Legislative Council.

Alloted two Lok Sabha seats — Bijnor and Baghpat — as part of the NDA, the RLD won both, and Jayant was inducted in the new Narendra Modi Cabinet as Minister of State (Independent charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and MoS in the Ministry. of Education.

RLD national secretary Anupam Mishra said, “We were zero in every House. Within no time, we have reached all these houses, only because of the visionary leadership of party president Jayant Chaudhary. Now, the party is planning to expand itself in eastern and central UP, as well as other states.”

He added that their next focus is to remove the tag of being a party of Jats, and of being purely western UP based. He said the party is focusing on Haryana for the upcoming Assembly elections, while people from Telangana are scheduled to meet central leaders of the party on July 1 for expanding the organization in the state. The party is also reshuffling its organization in Madhya Pradesh, he said.

To remove the tag of a party of Jats, Mishra said the RLD picked a Dalit as minister in UP, and gave tickets to a Jat and a Gujjar in the Lok Sabha polls.

In the past too, the RLD has made alliances with different political parties, helping it survive in proximity of political power. In December 1989, party founder Ajit Singh had become the Union Cabinet Minister for Industry in the National Front Government of late VP Singh. When he was re-elected in 1991 as a Janata Dal MP, the Congress had returned to power with PV Narasimha Rao as the PM. Then Ajit joined the government and was appointed Cabinet Minister of Food in February 1995, a post he held till May 1996.

Soon after being elected again to the Lok Sabha in 1996, this time on a Congress ticket, Ajit Singh had left the party to launch the Bharatiya Kisan Kamgar Party (BKKP), resigning as a Lok Sabha MP to contest a byelection as a BKKP candidate. . He went on to found the RLD in 1997, and in 1999, contested the Lok Sabha polls on its symbol. In July 2001, he was sworn in as Cabinet Minister for Agriculture in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s BJP-led NDA government, and served in the position till May 2003.

In 2004, the RLD had contested 10 Lok Sabha seats in UP in alliance with the SP, and won three. In 2009, it had contested in alliance with the BJP and won five seats, but soon afterwards, joined the UPA 2, with Ajit Singh becoming the Union Civil Aviation Minister in 2011.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the RLD contested on three seats in alliance with the SP and the BSP, lost on all seats but improved its vote share compared to 2014, when the party had contested in alliance with the Congress on eight seats and lost. all.

With a base in western UP’s Jat belt, the RLD has also contested Assembly polls in alliance with different parties. In the 2002 Assembly polls, it won 14 seats out of the 38 it contested in alliance with the BJP. That remains its best ever performance, with the party witnessing a steady decline since then.

In 2007, it contested alone on 254 Assembly segments and won only 10. In 2012, it contested 46 seats in alliance with the Congress, but won only nine. In 2017, it contested alone on 277 seats but won only Chhaprauli.