Lucknow, Oct 8 : One incident of police misbehaviour has catapulted the almost defunct Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) on to the centre stage of politics in western Uttar Pradesh.
Massive protests have been held in districts of Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Bulandshahr, Aligarh and Bijnor among others on Tuesday and Wednesday and will culminate in a Maha-panchayat in Muzaffarnagar on Thursday.
RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary and his men were thrashed with lathis by the police when the delegation was on its way to meet the Hathras victim’s family on Monday. Chaudhary was speaking to reporters when policemen started attacking him.
The incident triggered outrage among the Jat community that saw it as an attack on their community identity and pride.
Hundreds of angry RLD workers gathered in front of the police premises in Meerut on Monday itself and raised slogans against the government’s police excesses.
Protesting against the attack, workers tried to block the road and burn the chief minister’s effigy.
In Bijnor, the protest was led by district chief Rahul Chaudhary and state secretary Praveen Deshwal, while in neighbouring Amroha, hundreds of activists led by state general secretary Ramveer Singh staged a ‘dharna’.
In both districts, supporters also burnt effigies.
A senior political analyst said: “The RLD has been completely side-lined in recent years. Its president Ajit Singh has slipped into retirement mode. The party won one seat in the 2017 Assembly elections and could not win even a single seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“The Hathras incident, however, has brought Jayant Chaudhary back into the limelight and has also proved that Jats are still with RLD even though the party has been down and out in recent years.”
The Maha-panchayat, scheduled to be held later on Thursday, is being supported by various Khaps in the region. Issues related to farmers’ bills and their problems will also be raised at the event.
Samajwadi Party, Congress, JD(S) leaders are likely to join the Maha-panchayat that will see a large presence of farmers from Haryana, too.
“If this Maha-panchayat succeeds, it will catapult the RLD back on rails and our cadres will be enthused enough to revive political activities before the 2022 assembly polls,” said an RLD leader in Lucknow.