If the victory in Gorakhpur and Phulpur bye-elections provided a formula to the united opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh to check the BJP, the performance of their joint candidate in the Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll might build the foundations of an alliance for the 2019 general elections. The opposition parties have realised that sticking together, as of now, is the only formula to check the further march of the BJP. That is why, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), having high-stakes in the western parts of Uttar Pradesh and keen to contest Kairana seat, had announced full support to the united opposition.
Later, it was decided that former BSP MP Tabassum Begum will contest the bypoll on RLD ticket. The entire opposition was on the same page when it strategically decided to field Begum, who was in the Samajwadi Party earlier, from the seat for which she was made to join the RLD. After a three-hour long meeting between SP’s Akhilesh Yadav and RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary here last week the deal was cleared. The public meeting addressed by Begum after filing nomination papers there reportedly saw the presence of workers of the SP, BSP, RLD and Congress.
There was speculation that Chaudhary will contest from the seat, but Tabassum’s selection was dictated by the exigencies of coalition politics. While Tabassum had links with the BSP, the challenge was to ensure Jats voted for her and that’s why the RLD symbol.
Tabassum is wife of former Samajwadi MP Munnawar Hasan. Their son Nahid Hasan is an SP legislator. It is unique in the sense that the candidate having such strong ties with the SP and BSP is contesting on RLD symbol.
After the 2013 riots in Muzaffarnagar, the social fabric of this region had gone awry. Tabassum’s candidature is also an attempt to bring the dominant Jats together with Muslims and Dalits on a platform to withstand the challenge from the BJP. For the ruling BJP, Kairana is important as it was represented by its senior leader Hukum Singh and retaining it was a necessity for the party which has recently faced reversals in the two by-polls and therefore it would not leave any stone unturned for the polls.
The party has fielded Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka Singh also to capitalise on sympathy factor. The BJP which had looked unconquerable after the 2017 Assembly polls recently showed chinks in its armour with the two major players in the caste based politics of Uttar Pradesh – the SP and BSP – came together for the Gorakhpur and Phulpur by elections.
The saffron party realises that Kairana and Noorpur (Assembly) seat which will also go to polls on May 28 are of significance for it.
The Opposition which appears to be grabbing the chance for a rewind of Gorakhpur and Phulpur for further redeeming its pride might also be faced with a tough task in Kairana as it was much easier for the BSP to transfer its dedicated votebank to the SP candidates to defeat the BJP in its stronghold .It will not be that easy for the RLD and Congress to repeat the same.