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In a communally sensitive Western UP, United opposition succeeds in keeping BJP at bay

By Vinod

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lost both the Kairana Lok Sabha seat to Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Noorpur Assembly seat to Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate where united Opposition has put up one candidate against the BJP in the by elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Tabassum Hasan

Tabassum Hasan, a SP leader contested on a RLD ticket, in a Muslim dominated constituency making it a cakewalk for her with 5.80 lakh Muslim voters. Moreover, in the changed scenario where the BJP is ruling the state, a host of local issues too had gone against it that included law and order, delay or non-payment of sugarcane prices, poor roads and schools and perennial traffic jams.

Besides Muslims, Jats were equally important in Western Uttar Pradesh where sugarcane farming is done in a big way and mostly by Jats and division of Jat votes between the two groups had played a major spoiler for the BJP in deciding the outcome of this poll.

Jat votes were divided for two important reasons one prices of sugarcane and the other factor was that they claimed to be neglected resultantly benefiting the opposition.

There were around 5.80 lakh Muslims, 2.5 lakh Dalits and over 1.70 lakh Jats in Kairana. They were claimed to be supporting opposition. The BJP was banking on Gujjars (1.50 lakh, OBC), upper caste (about 55,000), Sainis (1.80 lakh OBC) and a range of castes like Kashyaps, Pal and Prjapatis besides looking at Jats.

The BJP was also counting on the support from section of Jatav (Dalit) voters who traditional support the BSP but voted the BJP in Last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

This was third consecutive drubbing after Gorakhpur and Phoolpur Lok Sabha. Election in Kairana was necessitated after the death of Hukum Singh -- the sitting MP. His daughter Mriganga Singh proved to be second time unlucky after she was defeated by RLD's Tabassum Hasan while Noorpor seat was won Samajwadi Party candidate Naimul Hasan who has defeated Avani Singh of the BJP by 9,590 votes.

More or less the same factor played in Noorpur. The RLD got 481182 votes while the BJP got 436564 and the margin was 44618.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP's Hukum Singh got 5,65,909 votes that was 50.54 per cent and he had defeated Samajwadi Party's Nahid Hasan who got 3,29,081 votes that was 29.49 per cent. The BSP's Kanwar Hasan got 1,60,414 votes making it 14.33 per cent and the victorious party in this election RLD's Kartar Singh Bhadana got just 42,706 votes that is just 3.81 per cent. So the BJP would have emerged victorious in 2014 even if opposition had contested elections jointly.

Besides all these numerical calculation opposition worked on ground as well. Congress leader Imran Masood holds sway over Muslim voters in two of Kairana's Assembly segments - Nakur and Gangoh - which fall within Saharanpur district, he proved to be a valuable asset.

A source said that Masood and Hassan, who do not see eye-to-eye, were brought together by Gujjar-Muslim activists from Saharanpur who were worried that a divide between Gujjar and Sheikh Muslims in Kairana would end up helping the BJP. Imran is a Sheikh and Nahid is a Gujjar. They have been rivals for a long time.

But the BJP spokesperson J V L Narsimha Rao ruled out any united opposition in 2019 Lok Sabaha elections.

He said, "Bypolls are contested on local issues, because the people don't have to elect a chief minister or a prime minister. And if we look at the 2014 by polls too, media had said that is the Modi magic waning, have the people rejected BJP... But then we won the state in 2017."

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