Reaching out to Jats, a politically crucial community in western Uttar Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has presented his party as the best bet for them, saying voting for the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal or any other party would not help their cause.
Shah's reachout to the leaders of the community at a meeting at Union minister and Jat leader Birender Singh's residence in New Delhi on Tuesday night assumes significance ahead of the first two phases of polling in the state on February 11 and 15 where the Jats are tipped to play a key role.
A section of the community, which had voted for the BJP in large numbers in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, has been unhappy with the saffron party over a host of issues ever since.
There is speculation that in the upcoming assembly polls, a section of the Jats is in favour of backing the RLD, which has traditionally been their first choice as it believes that the BJP has done little to safeguard the interests of the community while promising to do a lot more.
Shah told the Jat leaders that it was the BJP which had fought for their reservation in education and government jobs, which is currently in a limbo due to judicial intervention. The BJP chief also assured them that the party will take care of their concerns.
He also noted that the Modi government had made several Jat leaders, including Singh and Sanjeev Balyan, central ministers.
BJP sources said Shah also asked the Jat leaders to think about whether voting for the RLD, the presence of which is only limited to parts of western Uttar Pradesh, will serve their interests.
With the agrarian community unlikely to back either the SP-Congress alliance or the BSP for a host of reasons, the BJP is hopeful that it can still walk away with a major chunk of Jat votes, the sources said.
The party was working overtime to win over the community and restrict the RLD's influence, they added.
Uttar Pradesh BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said his party believed in 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' and it was imperative that it reached out to all the communities for their support in this regard.
In the aftermath of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, which had pitted Jats against Muslims, the former had strongly favoured the BJP in the 2014 general election and even Ajit Singh, considered to be the most prominent Jat leader in the region, lost his pocket borough of Baghpat.