As the Lok Sabha election of 2019 looms, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) will try to replicate the successful formula that helped it win the Kairana Lok Sabha byelection in 2018.

Supported by alliance partners SP, BSP and Congress, the RLD’s Tabassum Hasan had achieved a remarkable victory in the byelection over the BJP candidate Mriganka Singh. In fact the party’s door-to-door campaigning and small meetings instead of high profile rallies seemed to have worked in the RLD’s favour. An encore is now on the cards.

As part of its strategy for 2019, the RLD has decided to reach out to people in western UP through its ‘ Jansamvad yatra and ‘ Padyatra’. RLD strategists have realised the importance of interacting with people on a one-on-one basis. “It is a better way to reach out to the people,” said party leader Rajkumar Sangwan, adding that the RLD wants to address people’s issues and for this it is important to meet them individually through padyatra and small meetings as they did ahead of the Kairana bypoll.

RLD president Chaudhary Ajit Singh and vice president Jayant Chaudhary had addressed over 100 small meetings and interacted with people as part of their Jansamvad yatra during the Kairana campaign. Their arch rival BJP had held big rallies addressed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, involved UP cabinet ministers, MLAs and MPs besides roping in the entire rank and file for campaigning.

Just a day before the Kairana polling, in adjacent Baghpat district, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and addressed a mega rally. But the RLD continued with its small public meetings and door-to-door campaigning by senior leaders which ensured its victory.

Now focusing on the 2019 parliamentary election, RLD has decided to start its campaign with a series of meetings, padyatras and Jansamvad yatra. In the present charged atmosphere, when farmers are annoyed with the BJP, it seems to be just the right time for the RLD to go amidst the people as it has a strong base among farmers, who are disgruntled with the ruling party.

The farmers’ ire grew when Delhi police lathi-charged them at the UP border on 2 October to foil their attempt to reach Kisan Ghat as part of the Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Kisan Kranti Yatra.

For the first time in the past few years after the death of BKU founder Mahendra Singh Tikait in 2011, farmers came out united in support of their demands against the government. BKU has a strong social impact in western UP and this Yatra has ended with strengthening it further.

The RLD, which is also known as the party for farmers right from the time of the late PM Chaudhary Charan Singh, has a strong political base which had dwindled after the fierce communal riots of Muzzaffarnagar in 2013 but it has started reviving again.

It is believed that the extensive travelling and individual meetings of Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary have worked in the RLD’s favour. This plan is being reintroduced in western UP.

Jayant is starting a padyatra in Modinagar, said RLD spokesman Sunil Rohta, adding that he will meet farmers and others to expose the anti-farmer face of the BJP and invite them to support RLD.

This area is part of the Baghpat Lok Sabha constituency where Ajit Singh lost the previous election. In his long political career, Ajit Singh has lost from Baghpat only twice.

Such programmes will be carried out across western UP, said Rohta, adding that Ajit Singh will interact with people of every caste, creed and religion during his Jansamvad in Rohta and Daurala on 14 and 15 October.

Rohta claimed that party leaders and workers are working hard to ensure the success of these programmes by convening meetings in villages. Party leaders are confident that social and political equations are changing in the region, especially after the victory in Kairana. RLD’s traditional Jat voters who had drifted away from the party after the Muzaffarnagar riots showed their inclination towards Ajit Singh in the Kairana bypoll and the party succeeded in reviving its winning Jat-Muslim combination.

Party leaders believe that this is the right time to expose the BJP among farmers as they are annoyed about the incident at the UP border and want to teach the BJP a lesson in the general election. Farmer politics is important in western UP as most political parties have realised.

Since the heat is on after the Kisan Kranti Yatra of BKU, the RLD wants to take the fight further so that it proves to be an advantage in the 2019 election.

Many years ago, Ajit Singh had tied up with BKU’s Mahendra Singh Tikait and formed the Bharatiya Kisan Kamgaar Party, but it failed to click and they parted ways. Both the BKU and RLD have a common concern for farmers but the duo have never come together, though this time the Kisan Kranti Yatra of BKU has come in handy for the RLD.