Election Commission last week allotted the party’s arrow symbol to the Nitish faction and not to the rebel group led by Sharad Yadav.
New Delhi: Nitish Kumar led Janata Dal (United) has now decided to contest upto 100 seats in the coming Gujarat polls.
A major chunk of these seats would go to Patels who have been up in arms against the Bharatiya Janata Party but are not satisfied with the seat-sharing agreement reached between the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti and the Congress.
The major factor which the JD(U) is trying to exploit is the fact that JD(U) chief and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is Kurmi — a caste which is equivalent to Patels of Gujarat.
JD(U) national secretary K.C. Tyagi told this newspaper that Nitish Kumar was one of the first leaders PAAS chief Hardik Patel had met after coming out of jail.
But much has happened since then, with Mr Kumar walking out of the Congress-RJD grand alliance in Bihar and joining the NDA and Mr Patel openly declaring his support for the Congress in these elections.
The Election Commission last week allotted the party’s arrow symbol to the Nitish faction and not to the rebel group led by Sharad Yadav.
However, with the Congress officially allocating only five to six of the seats for the PAAS members so far, it was the disgruntled elements among Patels which the JD(U) is targeting. The community which is 12 per cent of the population.
But it is very influential has been traditional supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party but has been disgruntled with the party over its demand for reservation spear-headed by Mr Patel.
The JD(U)’s move to field so many Patel candidates was likely to benefit the BJP as it would lead to three corner contests in the Patidar dominated seats.
The other area where the JD(U) was focussing was the triabal belt where its rebel leader Chotubhai Vasava was contesting on the Autorickshaw symbol of the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP).
The JD(U) has been quiet strong in this belt which has been under the influence of legendary socialist leaders like Mama Baleshwar Dayal.
Though Mr Vasava is the tallest leader in this area, the Nitish Kumar faction has left no stone unturned to defeat him including fielding a namesake in his constituency Jhagadiya who will fight on the arrow symbol.
“In total we are fighting nearly 100 seats. Neither are we fighting to help defeat anybody nor are we helping just to make any body win” Mr Tyagi said.
He added that many JD(U) members who had sided with the Sharad Yadav led faction have now come back as they wish to contest under the Arrow symbol which they consider as the original JD(U) and tribals identify with.
“This is also an attempt to establish the fact that we are the real Janata Dal United,” he said.
The party has already released a list of 25 candidates for the first list.
Mr Vasava on the other hand is fighting five seats on Autorickshaw symbol and two on the Congress symbol.