BJP’s desperate last card: Turn Kairana into Hindu vs Muslim contest  

Faced with a strong candidate supported by RLD, SP, BSP, Congress and Nishad Party, BJP leaders are trying to play one last card of turning the Kairana bypoll into a Hindu versus Muslim contest

Courtesy: RLD
Courtesy: RLD
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Biswajeet Banerjee

In the upcoming Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll, the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Mriganka Singh is pitted against Tabassum Hasan of the Rashtriya Lol Dal. This Lok Sabha seat has about 40% minority votes and a large population of Gujjars, both Hindu and Muslim, numbering around 3 lakh. Both Mriganka and Tabassum belong to same clan—Gujjar. Though a Samajwadi Party member, Tabassum Hasan is fighting on an RLD ticket, with the formidable backing of the SP, BSP, Congress and Nishad Party. Mriganka is the daughter of former BJP MP Hukum Singh, whose death necessitated this by-election, and is expected to get a share of sympathy votes. But that may not be enough to surpass the combined Jat, Gujar, Muslim, Yadav and Jatav votebanks which Tabassum can mostly rely on. Mostly, because some Gujjars, be they Hindu or Muslim, will support Mriganka. This is because Gujjars in Kairana are not divided on religious lines. Some Muslim Gujjars will support Mriganka and some Hindu Gujjars will support Tabassum.

Faced with the formidable arithmetic, the BJP is predictably trying to turn the contest from Gujar vs Gujar, beti vs Bhabhi, into a Hindu-Muslim fight. The contrived controversy over the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in nearby Aligarh Muslim University was one such attempt to stir the communal cauldron. Now BJP is once again trying to play ‘Palayan Politics’, raised by Hukum Singh himself when he claimed that there had been an exodus of Hindus from places in Kairana. “The election now is between Mriganka and Tabassum. Mind my words when the opponent is Tabassum, caste evaporates and the fight boils down to between Hindu and Muslim,” a senior BJP leader said.

BJP general secretary and in-charge of western Uttar Pradesh Vijay Bahadur Pathak said that BJP is contesting election on the plank of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas’. “This is the area which had witnessed large scale exodus because of machination by criminals. This government brought peace. The BJP government has worked on welfare of people and we are going to the masses with this message,” he said. “The other parties know that they cannot match our good work and therefore are raking up emotive issues like Hindus and Muslims,” he said.

The SP and RLD say they are amazed at the “audacity” shown by BJP leaders to try to turn this contest into a fight between Hindu and Muslim. RLD national spokesman Anil Dubey said that BJP is willfully trying to communalise this election. “The people of this area are fed up with the mis-rule of Yogi and Modi governments. The payments of the cane growers have not been cleared so far. All the promises made during elections have fallen flat,” he said. “In this scenario the BJP is left with no other option other than to talk about Hindu and Muslim. People of this area still go to Panipat for work. They want development. They will not fall prey to the wily game plan of BJP this time,” Dubey said.

Kairana votes on May 28; the result will be declared on May 31.

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