‘Even if we vote for Jayant Chaudhary, he is not going to become the Prime Minister and take on Pakistan’.

 

Baghpat: Development works like the operational Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), improved electricity supply, rapid construction of connecting roads and issues of national security, seem to be giving an edge to Union Minister Satyapal Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Baghpat, while Ajit Singh’s son Jayant Chaudhary is invoking his grandfather Chaudhary Charan Singh’s legacy to win this Jatland which will vote in the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls on 11 April.

On Tuesday, around 2 pm, Satyapal Singh reached Barwala village of Baraut Tehsil to continue his campaign schedule of the day. The villagers overwhelmingly greeted him and raised slogans in favour of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Satyapal Singh asked people to choose whom they want to vote for—for those who only speak about their legacy or a leader who devotes most of his time for the constituency and works for the development of the area.

Satyapal Singh said he believed that voters of the new generation want development. Singh told The Sunday Guardian: “Third generation voters have almost no recall of what happened in the past, but the constituency has seen development works being done by me in five years. The voters of this constituency won’t buy the emotional plank of Junior Chaudhary. They will set aside their caste-community considerations and vote for development, national security and good governance.”

Taking a jibe at his opponent, Singh said: “Senior chale gaeye to Junior hain. They can’t fool people for so long, Modiji has set the tone of new politics in the country and Baghpat will follow that tone only. This time, I will win with more votes than what I got last year.”

In 2014, BJP’s Satyapal Singh, a former Mumbai top cop, defeated the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Ghulam Mohammad by over two lakh votes, while Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh was relegated to the third position in his bastion. This time, Ajit Singh migrated to Muzaffarnagar and is contesting the Lok Sabha polls against Sanjeev Balyan of the BJP.

Bablu Chaudhray, a voter at Baghpat, told The Sunday Guardian: “We want Satyapal Singh to win and become our MP and Narendra Modi to be our Prime Minister because of their development works for the constituency and the country respectively. The constituency is now connected with the Eastern Peripheral road and has 22-hour electricity supply.”

Devesh Singh, a youth from Shivalkhas of Baghpat, told The Sunday Guardian: “Even if we vote for Jayant Chaudhary, he is not going to become the Prime Minister and take on Pakistan or make any improvement for the constituency. The father and son have no credibility left, as the duo has been a turncoat and working only to remain in power.”

In Baghpat, the contest is polarised between two Jats: Satyapal Singh and Ajit Singh’s son Jayant Chaudhary. Satypal Singh has the backing of Prime Minister Modi’s fan following in the constituency.

Jayant Chaudhary is relying on the core supporter base of the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the constituency. While the BSP brings with it the solid vote bank of the Jatavs, mainly concentrated in the Tukali area, the SP provides the Muslim vote bank of the constituency.

Rahul, in-charge of Lok Sabha campaign of the RLD, told this reporter that Ajit Singh is campaigning in his own constituency Muzaffarnagar. His son Jayant Chaudhary was campaigning in the Modinagar Assembly constituency on the day this reporter visited the Baghpat constituency.

Haji Jami Uddin Abbasi, an RLD supporter, said: “Delayed payment of sugarcane farmers by government-owned sugar mills, increasing communal tensions and false promises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have prompted us to vote  against the BJP.”

Those supporting Jayant Chaudhary cited non-payment of cane dues, increase in power tariffs and joblessness under the BJP government as reasons to support him. Communal polarisation following the Muzaffarnagar riots and the breakdown of the Jat-Muslim relationship pushed the BJP to a big win here in 2014. Baghpat has five Assembly segments—Baraut, Siwalkahs, Chhaprauli, Modi Nagar and Baghpat.

Jats and Muslims are the two largest groups in the constituency, once held by Chaudhary Charan Singh. While Muslims are strongly backing the RLD, the mood among the Jats is not against of BJP. Also, the Gujjars are still leaning towards the BJP in this constituency.

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