The overwhelming numbers of Muslim, which are expected to vote for the RLD-SP candidate undivided in absence of a Congress candidate, is the biggest cause of concerns for the saffron party.
Having suffered a drubbing in Phulpur and Gorakhpur by-elections, the Congress has decided not to field its candidates in upcoming polls for Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh. Apparently, the move is an attempt to prevent division of votes and help the candidates fielded by the alliance of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). While not fielding the candidates was expected from the Congress, what comes as surprise is party’s apparent inaction going into the polls.
The party cadre in both the constituencies have received no notification or directive whatsoever on the plan of action during the polls. As a result, the party workers are directionless regarding whom to support and in what way. An Indian Express report says that most local Congress workers are inactive and have decided to support the RLD-SP alliance candidates.
In Kairana, a communally sensitive constituency, SP leader Tabassum Begum is contesting elections on an RLD ticket. The BJP has fielded Mriganka Singh, the daughter of former MP Hukum Singh, whose death necessitated the elections.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Congress’ Shamli district president Om Prakash Sharma said that the party’s local unit has not received any communication or directive from the party headquarters. The party has neither announced any nominee nor asked to support any other candidate, he added. Sharma further said that party leaders are supporting the RLD nominee because she appeared to be strong against the BJP candidate.
The Kairana bypoll is considered to be a nail-biting contest between the BJP and the Opposition. In 2014, party stalwart Hukum Singh had defeated Tabbasum Begum’s son, Nahid Hasan, then only 26. The saffron party is looking to garner votes through a sympathy wave by fielding Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka. On the other hand, RLD-SP is looking to garner Muslim votes. The RLD also has a Jat vote bank in the region, also, the BSP has not fielded its candidate which may help SP’s candidate in the elections.
In Kairana, there are 5.46 lakh Muslims and over 10 lakh Hindus. However, the Hindu votes are further divided into sub-castes – 2.46 lakh Dalits, 1.52 lakh Jats, 1.23 lakh Kashyaps, 1.20 lakh Gujjars, one lakh Sainis, 32,000 Thakurs, 65,000 Brahmins, 60,000 Vaish, and 1.05 lakh others. Among the Hindu castes, the BJP is looking to garner the support of some of the Dalit votes, a task nearly impossible after the recent protests by the community on national stage, and that of Jat and Gujjar leaders, owing to the animosity of the two communities against the Muslims. The party will also be supported by other caste groups. However, the overwhelming number of Muslims, expected to vote for the RLD-SP candidate undivided in absence of a Congress candidate, is the biggest cause of concern for the saffron party.
In Noorpur, the bypoll was necessitated after the death of former MLA Lokendra Singh. The BJP has fielded his wife Avnish Singh. while the SP has pitted Naim Ul Hasan, its nominee in 2017 state polls. Speaking to IE, Bijnor district Congress president Dungar Singh said that party has not issued any directives to the local leaders so far. In absence of a directive, the party workers have decided to support the SP nominee.