RLD to test political mood in stronghold

Lucknow, Dec 16: Fearing loss of political base in western Uttar Pradesh, specially after the Muzaffaranagar communal riots, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has kick-started a ‘Sadbhavna’ (Harmony) week.

Officially, the party says the week will be used to spread the word about its policies. But leaders admit they are testing waters in the region, a traditional RLD stronghold.

The party is aware that the September riots mainly involving the Jats and Muslims has antagonized its traditional Jat vote base, following numerous arrests of community members.

The violence left dozens dead, and forced a large number of Muslims to flee villages where they had lived in peace with Muslims for generations.

The RLD will also hold a rally Dec 23 in Meerut.

The rally, which will be a show of strength for party chief and Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, coincides with the birth anniversary of his father and former prime minister Charan Singh.

Insiders told IANS that the party was trying to check the ground realities post-Muzaffaranagar.

“There is a feeling among the rank and file that our vote bank has shifted to the BJP in the aftermath of the riots,” a party leader said.

Munna Singh, the state president of the RLD, said such political activities were routine and part of the political calendar.

At its Meerut rally, the party will demand Bharat Ratna for Charan Singh, who was prime minister in 1979-80.

IANS