They will help Tabassum Hasan, the consensus candidate of the RLD, SP and BSP.
Kairana: Core supporters of Mriganka Singh, daughter of the late Hukum Singh, are likely to dent the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) poll prospects in western UP’s Kairana seat and help Tabassum Hasan, the consensus candidate of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The constituency will go to polls in the first phase on 11 April.
The BJP had denied a ticket to Mriganka Singh, and fielded Pradeep Choudhury, its legislator from Ganoh from the Jat community.
Mriganka Singh had lost to Tabassum Hasan by a margin of nearly 45,000 votes in the Lok Sabha bypolls held in 2018. The bypolls were necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MP and Mriganka Singh’s father Hukum Singh. Hukum Singh is seen by many as a stalwart in the region and still has an unparalleled popularity in Kairana.
Virendra Singh, a voter from the Shamli Assembly constituency, told The Sunday Guardian: “This time, we are not going to vote for the BJP as the party has insulted our leader Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka Singh. Voters from the Gujjar caste segment had fully supported BJP in 2014, but this time the community is not going to support the BJP.”
Matan Singh, another voter from Shamli, said: “Mriganka lost in the bypolls not because she was less popular, but due to the family feud. We will not accept the humiliation of Gujjars in Kairana. A Jat has been given ticket and not a Gujjar, because the BJP thinks that only Jats will vote for them which is far from the reality.”
By giving ticket to a turncoat Jat leader Pradeep Choudhury, who had joined the BJP after switching from the Congress in 2017 and had also won the Assembly elections from Ganoh, the BJP has left Gujjar voters angry. The Gujjar caste are nearly 1,50,000 in the constituency. Not only the Gujjars, but the Mallah community is also angry over denial of a ticket to Mriganka Singh.
Saran Mallah, a voter from Bariwa village of Shamli block, told The Sunday Guardian: “We (Mallah community) have been a staunch supporter of the late Hukum Singh. Now, the people of our community are disappointed with the denial of ticket to his daughter Mriganka. Hukum Singh had served the people here for a long time. It is unfortunate that his daughter Mriganka did not receive a ticket. Wherever Mriganka wants, we will vote there.”
In Shamli’s Titarwada, it’s Ikra Tabassum who has taken the charge of the campaign for her mother Tabassum Hasan. Late on Tuesday evening, Ikra Tabassum, while visiting house to house in Titarwada village, sought support and blessings from voters for her mother. Ikra Tabassum herself has political ambitions and had contested the Zila Parshad elections. Ikra Tabassum’s son Nahid Hasan is the incumbent MLA from the Kairana Assembly constituency.
Ikra Tabassum told The Sunday Guardian: “Not only my mother’s popularity in the area, but the caste and community arithmetic is in favour of the RLD on the Kairana seat. From this seat, my mother had won in 2018 and we are fully confident of winning in this Lok Sabha election too. We have the support of all the caste and community; in particular, we have deep reach among the community from which we belong. As an alliance candidate (RLD-SP-BSP), all voter segments, including Jats, Gujjars, Muslims, Sainis and Kashayps, have come together to make my mother’s victory certain.” The Kairana constituency comprises four Assembly segments namely, Ganoh, Kairana, Thana Bhawan and Shamli. The constituency has nearly 13 lakh voters with a significant number (around 4,00,000) of Muslims voters. The other dominant voter segments include the Gujjars, Jats, Mallahs, Dalits and Kashyaps.
However, according to voters’ opinion on the ground, the contest is not going to be easy for Tabassum Hasan and except the Kairana Assembly constituency, the BJP has an overall good fan following in the area. Polarisation on community lines, issues of national security and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name may turn the political game plan of the RLD-SP-BSP alliance in the constituency. Out of four Assembly constituencies, the BJP had won three seats in the Assembly elections in 2017.
On Wednesday, at around 8 pm, supporters of Pradeep Choudhury were seen still waiting to see him. He reached Kairana four hours late at 9 pm as he was scheduled to reach by 4 pm. The moment he reached, supporters started raising slogans in favour of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After a while, Pradeep Choudhury explained to the supporters how their vote will make Modi the Prime Minister once again.
Pradeep Choudhury told The Sunday Guardian: “It’s an election where people are directly voting for our great Prime Minister. In election season, every leader claims to be the well-wisher of the community, but true leaders like Modiji and Yogiji are very few.” Asked about the Mriganka Singh factor in the current polls, Choudhury said: “Mriganka is our leader and she is campaigning for the BJP. A few days ago, she had held a campaigning programme and her supporters have overwhelmingly rendered their support to me. I am confident of winning this seat.” In Kairana, the Congress has fielded Harendra Malik and voters say that Malik might split the Jat voters and help the RLD-SP-BSP candidate Tabassum Hasan. However, voters are not taking the Congress seriously on this seat.