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Ganna vs Jinnah: How Sugarcane Dues and Jat Vote Helped United Opposition Trump BJP in Kairana

The sugarcane over dues of Rs 700 crore in Shamli district added edge to the RLD campaign over the BJP. Invoking Ganna v/s Jinnah, Jayant Chaudhary forced the BJP to play defensive and that was the critical moment of this election. The RLD candidate secured more votes in Lankh, Bahawadi, Lisad etc which affected by communal violence.

Sudhir Panwar |

Updated:June 6, 2018, 10:39 AM IST
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Ganna vs Jinnah: How Sugarcane Dues and Jat Vote Helped United Opposition Trump BJP in Kairana
RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan outside the counting centre after winning the Kairana Lok Sabha by-election, in Kairana on May 31, 2018. (PTI Photo)
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BJP leaders were jubilant when Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) announced candidature of Tabassum Hasan for the Kairana by-elections for obvious reasons. Since 2013, the BJP and its sister organisations were busy advancing Hindu-Muslim binary in western Uttar Pradesh. They tested this successfully in 2014 when Hukum Singh secured more than 50% votes i.e more than combined share of SP, BSP and RLD+Congress in Kairana and novice Sanjeev Baliyan won Muzaffarnagar seat where the Muslim population is more than 5 lakh.

During Assembly elections, the BJP further sharpened it by propagating the theory of Hindu exodus and comparison of Kairana with Kashmir. After overwhelming success in Assembly polls Yogi Adityanath further pushed this agenda by appointing Suresh Rana, an accused in the 2014 riot cases and providing important portfolios to him, including sugarcane and industrial development. The BJP was confident of the success of Hindu-Muslim binary reflected in the appointment of Sanjeev Baliyan as the election in charge who is accused in 2013 cases of communal violence.

Fielding of Tabassum Hasan by RLD and alliance partners in the communally charged constituency with 10.6 lakh Hindu voters was risky but a bold decision in many ways.

The alliance decided to take on BJP’s communal pitch not only to win the by-election but to defuse BJP’s Hindu-Muslim plank for 2019 elections in UP, specifically in western UP.

The tacit support of BSP to Tabassum Hassan, blunted the BJP strategy of a Hindu-Muslim divide and set the voters’ arithmetic in favour of the alliance candidate. The BSP support resulted into two blocks of voters — one with 7.65 lakh voters that comprised 5.4 lakh Muslims and 2.25 lakh SC voters and second with 8.35 lakh voters. These two blocks meant that the 1.8 lakh Jat voters had the power to decide the winner.

Kairana bypolls saw a tussle among the leaders from BJP, SP and RLD to woo Jat voters. BJP’S Jat leaders from all states, including ministers, camped at Jat-dominated villages. For the SP, state president Naresh Uttam Patel camped at the Jat village of Bhainswal and addressed corner meetings at various villages along with Ashok Chaudhary, district president of Shamli. RLD’s Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhary touched each and every villages and held 3-4 meetings in every of these Jat villages.

Both sides were armed with sentimental appeal embedded in history, the emphasis of the BJP leaders was to refresh the memory of 2014 Kawal violence and talk about the help rendered by BJP leaders, while Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhary recalled the glorious old days of Chaudhary Charan Singh and political might of farmers and Jats.

After defeat in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, Kairana was a do-or-die situation for the BJP. The party invested all resources in this election, including the government machinery. Yogi Adityanath addressed two meetings and made “communal appeal” by addressing Sachin Malik and Gaurav Malik, who were killed in Kawal village in 2013, as martyrs. The CM invoked Jinnah also.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a roadshow in Baghpat a day before polling. Voters from Kairana were taken to that rally and despite the model code of conduct in place assurance on sugarcane arrear was announced in that meeting.

The sugarcane over dues of Rs 700 crore in Shamli district added edge to the RLD campaign over the BJP. Invoking Ganna v/s Jinnah, Jayant Chaudhary forced the BJP to play defensive and that was the critical moment of this election. The RLD candidate secured more votes in Lankh, Bahawadi, Lisad etc which affected by communal violence.

The defeat of the BJP in Thanabhawan and Nakud, a constituency of Suresh Rana and Dharm Singh Saini, a minister in the Yogi government is evidence of the anti-incumbency against the UP government.

The booth wise analysis of Kairana revealed several important facts. The BJP still enjoyed support of Most Backward Caste (MBC) in villages while vaishyas, core voters of the BJP, were reluctant to vote for the party. The BJP also completely lost support of Scheduled Caste voters.

The Kairana results proved organisational overhauling of the Samajwadi Party by Akhilesh Yadav transformed the party into a force to be reckoned with. RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary showed he is competent enough to strike a chord with Jats, especially youths who supported the BJP in 2014 and 2017.

There may be a different interpretation of BJP defeat in Kairana, but for sure anti-incumbency and rejection of communal politics are important messages. The anti-incumbency is warning for course correction to the BJP governments in the state and the Centre. The results are public’s approval for inclusive politics in an important trailer for what to expect in 2019.

(The author is a member of the Samajwadi Party and former member UP Planning Commission. Views are personal.)
| Edited by: Puja Menon
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