SP rubbishes RLD claim; will field own candidate in Kairana bypoll

Samajwadi Party has rubbished suggestions that it would back RLD scion Jayant Chaudhary’s candidature for the upcoming Kairana bypoll in Uttar Pradesh. SP said it is the natural claimant for the seat

Photo courtesy: Twitter.com/RLDparty
Photo courtesy: Twitter.com/RLDparty
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Vishwadeepak

Amid reports of ongoing discussions to unite all opposition parties to defeat BJP in the upcoming Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll in Uttar Pradesh, two opposition parties Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal have spoken in different voices.

A recent media report suggested RLD scion Jayant Chaudhary’s candidature for Kairana bypoll could be backed by the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party. The article claimed sources in SP said that Chaudhary could easily win the seat. Congress vice-president in Uttar Pradesh Imran Masood had also tossed the name of Jayant Chaudhary as a possible united opposition candidate.

But why anyone in SP would think so defies belief. In the 2017 state assembly polls, RLD candidates stood third in Thana Bhawan, Shamli and Kairana, eighth in Nakur and fifth in Gangoh, the five assembly segments which comprise the Kairana Lok Sabha seat. Their combined votes were less than BSP and SP separately. The SP candidate was also the runner-up in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, behind BJP’s Hukum Singh, whose passing away necessitated the bypoll.

Thus, analysts see such suggestions from RLD sources to media as a desperate bid by RLD and its chief, Jayant’s father and Jat politician Ajit Singh to return to mainstream politics. RLD is on the verge of extinction in Jat-dominated seats in western Uttar Pradesh. For the first time in nearly two decades, Ajit Singh’s party does not have an MLA in the 403-member UP assembly. Its sole MLA Sahendra Singh has recently joined the BJP, following his expulsion from the RLD. He was suspended from the party for voting for the BJP in the recent Rajya Sabha elections.

Unsurprisingly, a close associate of Akhilesh Yadav, the SP national president, dismissed RLD’s claims. He told National Herald that the SP has claimed its right over the seat and rubbished any reports of SP backing Jayant Chaudhary’s candidature for Kairana bypoll.

“We are the natural clamant for Kairana Lok Sabha. We have not decided our candidates yet, but it does not mean we have agreed to support Jayant’s bid. Not only in Kairana, we will field our own candidate in Noorpur assembly bypoll also,” he said, emphasising that SP had issued a statement shooting down all such speculation two days ago.

Tacit SP-BSP alliance already in place in Kairana?

With 50% of total vote share, BJP candidate Hukum Singh won the seat in 2014 election. While SP candidate Nahid Hasan got 30% vote share, finishing at second position, BSP candidate Kanwar Hasan secured third position with 15% vote share.

Analysts feel, Hukum Singh won comfortably in 2014 because both SP and BSP fielded Muslim candidates. In Kairana, with nearly 40% of the population, Muslims hold the key to Parliament, but division of their votes helped BJP.

Taking a cue from Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls, SP is hopeful of BSP support. However, no official word from the BSP has come so far. BSP supremo Mayawati, who was quick to announce her support to SP in the time of Gorakhpur-Phulpur byelections, has not said anything in favour of the alliance so far. BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria declined to comment over the issue.

Absence of any supporting voice for SP from the BSP camp has understandably caused concern among opposition forces. Another SP leader whose name is doing the round as candidate for Kairana bypoll told NH on the condition of anonymity that SP-BSP has a tacit understanding. “Even if they do not declare this time...pact between two parties would continue till 2019 as we both know that BJP is our enemy and fighting together is the only way to defeat the saffron party. Our combined vote share will easily exceed that of the BJP,” he said.

Echoing similar views, SP leader and spokesperson Sunil Singh claimed BSP support to SP. He was quoted by The Economic Times as saying that RLD and Congress have to decide whether they want to join the alliance or not.

It is learnt that intense debate on the issue is underway within the Congress, with a section of its UP leaders believing that the party should field its own candidate and the central leadership of the view that opposition unity must be strengthened. UP Congress president Raj Babbar held a closed door meeting with UP in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday for hours. It is expected that the party will soon announce its stand over the issue.

While the Opposition is busy deciding the candidate, credible sources told NH that BJP will field a strong candidate in Mriganka Singh, daughter of Hukum Singh. It would be her first Lok Sabha election, who tried her luck in 2017 assembly election but lost to SP’s Nahid Hasan by more than 21 thousand votes. However, Mriganka Singh is certain to garner a lot of sympathy votes.

Another seat that has fallen vacant is Noorpur in Bijnor district of UP, after the death of BJP MLA Lokendra Singh. Both Kairana and Noorpur will vote in the bypolls on May 28. Results for both seats would be declared on May 31.

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Published: 03 May 2018, 11:18 AM