Hastinapur in Meerut district of western Uttar Pradesh and Kasganj in the state’s Doab region stood by their reputation of being bellwether constituencies of the Hindi heartland with the voters reposing their faith in the BJP, which is all set to form the government after over 14 years. Located to the west of the Ganga, Hastinapur, the legendary capital of the Kauravas in the Mahabharata, may have lost much of its glory, but it has earned a reputation of going to the party that rules Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, Kasganj has always found itself on the winning side despite “Indira lehar”, the coalition era and the waves of Mandal and Mandir or stable BSP-SP governments in the state.
In Hastinapur, the BJP’s Dinesh Khatik defeated the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Yogesh Verma with a margin of over 20,000 votes.
In 2012, the Samajwadi Party’s Prabhu Dayal Balmiki emerged victorious as the party came to power and Akhilesh Yadav became the Chief Minister.
Balmiki won in the 2012 elections by a narrow margin of 6,641 votes against Yogesh Verma, then a Peace Party candidate. Verma, who won the seat in 2007 as a BSP candidate, has since rejoined the party and was its nominee for the seat. The BSP ruled the state from 2007 to 2012.
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For several years after Independence, Hastinapur’s seat — and the state — went to the Congress. But later, it also elected candidates from the Bharatiya Kranti Dal (BKD), Janata Party, Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Most of the time, the winning candidate’s party was elected to rule the state, giving Hastinapur the stature of a somewhat prescient constituency.
Interestingly, when Hastinapur in 1996 elected an independent candidate, Atul Kumar, no party got an absolute majority, forcing imposition of President’s Rule for some months.
That, however, was not unusual for the state through much of the 1990s.
Hastinapur elected a non-Congress candidate for the first time in 1969. The BKD won here and also ascended to power in Lucknow. The Congress regained the seat in 1974 and the party returned to power.
The Congress lost the seat in the Janata Party wave of 1977 and the state saw a government led by Ram Naresh Yadav of that party. He later joined the Congress. In 1980 and 1985, the Congress won the seat and saw a string of party leaders becoming Chief Ministers for brief tenures — V.P. Singh, Sripati Mishra, N.D. Tiwari twice, and Vir Bahadur Singh.
In 1989, the seat went to the Janata Dal and Mulayam Singh Yadav became the state’s Chief Minister for the first time that year.
Much of the 1990s was a period of ferment in Uttar Pradesh and saw Mulayam Singh’s second tenure (1993), several BJP Chief Ministers (Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta, Rajnath Singh), and the rise of Mayawati, who became Chief Minister twice (1995 and 1997).
It was during this period of turmoil that Hastinapur turned to its lone independent legislator.
In more recent times, as politics in the state became more stable, the SP’s Balmiki won the seat in 2002. Though Uttar Pradesh saw the formation of a BSP-BJP government for over a year (Mayawati’s third stint as Chief Minister), the SP eventually returned to power under Mulayam Singh.
The BSP won the seat in 2007 and Mayawati became Chief Minister for her fourth term. In 2012, Hastinapur re-elected Balmiki and the SP formed a government in Uttar Pradesh with Akhilesh Yadav as Chief Minister.
Kasganj, situated on the banks of river Kali, has something special as for the last 43 years, in each of the 11 assembly elections since 1974 it has voted for the party which has also won Uttar Pradesh.
This time Kasganj elected BJP’s Devendra Singh Rajput and the party is all set to rule the state.
Rajput defeated SP’s Hasrat Ullah Shervani with over a margin of 15,000 votes. In 2012, SP’s Manpal Singh won the seat.
Last time, the BJP won this seat was in 1991 when it made history by winning a clear majority in the state. Kalyan Singh became the Chief Minister.
Earlier, in 1974, Manpal Singh won Kasganj on a Congress ticket. After the Emergency, the Janata Party swept the state and the country alike. That year, Netram Singh became the Janata Party’s MLA from Kasganj.
In 1980, the Congress was back in power, as was Manpal Singh in Kasganj. He won another election in 1985, as did the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.
In 1989, when Mulayam Singh Yadav became the Chief Minister, Kasganj’s winning MLA was Goverdhan Singh. He too belonged to the Janata Party.