If SP-BSP+ alliance stays, BJP can lose Kairana bypoll too

The BJP may not retain the vacant Kairana Lok Sabha seat in the bypoll if the SP-BSP-led alliance continues, as per ground reports and analysis of the two most recent election results in Uttar Pradesh

If SP-BSP+ alliance stays, BJP can lose Kairana bypoll too

Aas Mohd Kaif

After its losses in bypolls to the prestigious Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party is now worried about retaining the Kairana Lok Sabha seat as well. Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats, vacated by BJP Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, respectively, were won by Samajwadi Party candidates backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and smaller parties.

Both the ground report and numbers game looks like the going will be tough for BJP—if faced with such a coalition in Kairana. A bypoll in this Lok Sabha seat was necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MP Hukum Singh. In the 2014 general election, Hukum Singh polled 5,65,909 votes to defeat SP candidate Nahid Hasan by a margin of around 2.3 lakh votes. Nahid’s uncle Kanwar Hasan, the BSP candidate, came third with around 1,60,000 votes. Kartar Bhadana of RLD, which fought in alliance with the Congress party (INC in graphic above), had notched around 42,000 votes. That was the time of the Narendra Modi wave. Not only did Hukum Singh win every assembly segment of Kairana (see graphic above), he overall polled more votes than the SP, BSP and RLD combined.

Four years later, the situation is very different. BJP’s voteshare has fallen since 2014. Kairana comprises the five assembly segments of Nakur, Gangoh, Thana Bhawan, Shamli and Kairana. In the 2017 state assembly polls, the BJP’s combined votes in all five seats were about 1.3 lakh less than Hukum Singh’s 2014 total—a drop of 24%. And in 2017, the combined votes of BSP, RLD, and the SP-Congress alliance were greater than the BJP candidate in 4 out of 5 assembly segments of Kairana Lok Sabha (see graphic above).

Hukum Singh's controversial actions in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign may have won him the Kairana seat in polarised Western Uttar Pradesh at the time, but it subsequently cost him a complete loss of secular votes in the region. None of Hukum Singh’s chosen BJP candidates could win the Kairana assembly segment post-2014. Nahid Hasan defeated Singh’s nephew Anil Chauhan in the 2014 bypoll for Kairana assembly seat. Hasan also defeated Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka Singh in the 2017 assembly elections.

In 2014, there was a 4-way contest in UP, with BJP, SP, BSP and Congress+RLD all fighting separately. In 2017 too, a Congress-SP alliance made it a 4-way fight with BJP, BSP and RLD. There had been a division in secular votes in both elections. But for the Kairana bypoll, the situation could be very different. It’s now expected that SP, BSP, RLD and perhaps even Congress will fight the Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll together, bringing together a formidable votebank of castes and communities and newly energised Opposition cadre, that make the BJP’s prospects look quite dim.

Kairana Lok Sabha seat has 40% minority votes and a large population of Gujjars, both Hindu and Muslim, numbering around 3 lakh. Nahid Hasan’s father, the late Munnawar Hasan, a former Samajwadi MP for Kairana, had issued the slogan ‘Gujjar-Gujjar ek samaan, Hindu ho ya Musalman’ (all Gujjars are same, whether Hindu or Muslim). Hukum Singh had been defeated by Tabassum Begum, wife of Munnawar Hasan in the 2009 general elections, after Munnawar’s untimely death in an accident. But in 2014, Hukum Singh had been successful in dividing the Gujjars along communal lines.

BJP is reportedly planning to field Mriganka Singh in the seat. Mriganka is bound to gain some sympathy votes in the region, but BJP can’t be sure of its ability to divide Gujjar votes again.

Pravesh Gujjar, a youth from Kairana, said that after spreading “great lies, BJP has committed a sin of diving brothers”. “Gujjar never thinks on the line of Hindu or Muslim. Seed of this difference was sown by Babu ji (Hukum Singh), whom we respected a lot but now we won’t go with people spreading hate,” he added.

A local BSP leader claims there is anger among the people against the BJP governments in both the state and the centre, and declares that BJP will be defeated in a one-sided competition.

Election Commission notification for the Kairana bypoll is awaited.

Translated from Hindi by Zaheeb Ajmal.

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