As the polling is underway for the Lok Sabha bypoll in Kairana, all eyes are on this crucial western Uttar Pradesh seat and its importance for the ruling party. The bypoll was necessiated because of the demise of Hukum Singh, BJP MP, who died in February due to respiratory illness.
Considering the fact that BJP won this seat in 2014, it is crucial for the ruling party to hold the seat. This will also have a morale-boosting effect on BJP cadre before the next year’s Lok Sabha elections, where the party can prove that losing Gorakhpur and Phulpur was just one bad incident and now it is strong enough to grab the power next year.
Hukum Singh was a seven-time MLA and entered the Parliament for the first time in 2014 on a BJP ticket. BJP has fielded his daughter Mriganka Singh hoping to consolidate the votes that her late father managed in the complex electoral demographics.
Kairana became a national sensation in 2016, when local MP Hukum Singh raised the issue of an alleged exodus of Hindu families from the town. The issue reached the Parliament and was one of the most talked about poll issues in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections 2017.
BJP successfully pushed RLD from the region in 2014 while Ajit Singh couldn’t win his Baghpat seat. The saffron party had then started initial phase of consolidation in the sensitive western Uttar Pradesh. Therefore, losing even a single seat before next year’s elections could be problematic for the party. Having thrown-out the traditional Jat party from its den, BJP has no option but to consolidate further and make strong grip in western UP, a region which has significant Muslim population, who have been traditionally Samajwadi or Congress supporters.
Also, a victory here would be a positive signal for the upcoming Rajasthan assembly elections, where there is a dominant Jat vote bank and BJP is eager to pull them in, especially after the annoyance shown by Rajput community towards the BJP over the issue of Anangpal Tomar’s ‘fake’ encounter allegations by the community.
Jats are considered as Kingmakers in Kairana and every party is vying for their attention. The campaign by Jat leaders like Dr Satya Pal, BJP MP from Baghpat, Sanjeev Balyan from Muzaffarnagar etc. highlights the importance of Jats on this seat. As of now, the BJP’s strategy has been successful here.
The BJP successfully calculated caste combinations of the seat in 2014 and 2017 elections and the issue of exodus boosted the saffron party’s chances. The allegations of ‘minority appeasement’ against the opposition, especially the Samajwadi party, yielded results and polarisation of votes was visible in the elections.
The significance of the seat for the BJP can also be understood by the fact that the combined opposition (Congress, SP, BSP) has apparently deployed their resources and set aside differences to put up a Muslim candidate, Tabassum Hasan, on an RLD ticket against the BJP.
Having lost Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, the BJP is in no mood to lose this seat. The party performed well in the assembly elections.
The issue of sugarcane farmers not getting their dues cleared is being seen as a crucial decider of votes, considering the fact of farmers unrest in other parts of the country and loan waiver promises. The results would tell whether the saffron brigade continues to hold the seat or opposition races ahead. The outcome seems to be a significant development in the political spectrum of the state.