The party, banking on the legacy of former PM Chaudhary Charan Singh, had no MP and its lone MLA had switched to the BJP.
Holi came early this year for Rashtriya Lok Dal workers who heralded their party’s win in the Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll, which broke the ‘zero’ spell in Parliament and the state legislature by giving them their sole MP, with the euphoric colours of victory.
The victory of Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Tabassum Hasan in the Kairana by-election on Thursday is of special significance for the party banking on the legacy of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.
RLD had no MP and its lone MLA Sahender Singh Ramala in Uttar Pradesh had switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Kairana bypoll, leaving the party high and dry in the country’s most populous state.
But Thursday’s bypoll result, propelling Hasan, who was backed by the opposition, to Parliament has infused new life in the RLD.
“Once the bypoll results were announced, the mood at the RLD’s office in Lucknow was upbeat, and party workers and leaders played Holi to celebrate the moment,” said state RLD chief Masood Ahmad.
“The victory of the RLD in Kairana is a victory for the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) and also a victory for those who had reposed their faith in the ideology and policies of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh,” he added.
The win comes after a dry run in the hustings.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, RLD candidates had to forfeit their deposits in six of the eight Lok Sabha seats they contested from Uttar Pradesh. The party managed to poll only 0.86 per cent of the total votes in the state.
The party’s performance was equally dismal in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections -- RLD contested 277 assembly seats but 266 of its candidates lost their deposits. Only one RLD candidate emerged victorious.
But he, too, left the RLD for BJP pastures a month ago on April 30.
“The lone RLD MLA joined BJP and is now a BJP MLA,” said UP BJP general secretary Vidyasagar Sonkar.
Sahender Singh Ramala, who represented the RLD from Chhaprauli in Baghpat, joined the BJP at its office in Lucknow in the presence of Sonkar and state BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey.
“The said MLA was already expelled from the party for cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections. It was proved that he was hand-in-glove with the BJP,” said senior RLD leader Anil Dubey.
Hasan is now an RLD MP in the Lok Sabha but the party does not have any representation in the Rajya Sabha or in the two houses of the state legislature, he said.
“But from here, we will assert ourselves very strongly for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he asserted.
The tide could be turning, party leaders said.
According to state RLD chief Ahmad, farmers and youngsters were feeling duped by the wrong policies of the Centre and Uttar Pradesh governments.
“The bypolls to Kairana and Noorpur are also perceived as a victory of secular forces over the communal forces,” he said in a statement.
The state’s ruling BJP on Thursday suffered a stunning electoral upset with joint opposition candidates posting victories in not just Kairana but also the Noorpur assembly constituency, which went to the Samajwadi Party.
“My victory has proved that the path of the united opposition is clear in 2019,” Tabassum Hasan said after the win.
The opposition victories follow the BJP defeats in the Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur in March, and come just a year before the general election.