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Amit Shah Stresses on Exodus, But all That Kairana Wants is Jobs

Exodus and migration are two words one gets to see a lot in BJP campaign material. Amit Shah underscored the issues when he told Network18 Group editor-in-chief Rahul Joshi that the party plans to set up a task force to look into “exodus”, whose constitution, he insisted, cannot be construed as communal.

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Updated:January 29, 2017, 9:09 PM IST
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Amit Shah Stresses on Exodus, But all That Kairana Wants is Jobs
Kairana MP Hukum Singh alleged there was an exodus of Hindus from his constituency because of intimidation by Muslim criminal gangs. Seen here is a file photo of a house on sale post the rumour began doing the rounds.
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New Delhi: Exodus and migration are two words one gets to see a lot in BJP campaign material. Amit Shah underscored the issues when he told Network18 Group editor-in-chief Rahul Joshi that the party plans to set up a task force to look into “exodus”, whose constitution, he insisted, cannot be construed as communal.

Exodus, as a politically loaded word, entered the electoral lexicon when Kairana MP Hukum Singh alleged there was an exodus of Hindus from his constituency because of intimidation by Muslim criminal gangs. A minority commission report afterwards debunked his claims, but the MP and his party has made this into a campaign issue.

So just how does Kairana itself feel about its sudden 15 minutes of fame?

Exodus is a topic of discussion, but it seems, like any other constituency in UP, the poll is centred on mundane bijili-sadak-pani issues.

The other hot debate is over the infighting in BJP regarding the candidature of Hukum Singh’s duaghter Mriganka Singh.

The party gave her ticket denying the claim of Singh's nephew and local strongman Anil Chauhan. Now Chauhan is on the other side of the fence, running as a candidate of Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal.

He joined the party hours before BJP announced Mriganka's candidature. Chauhan had fought election for the Kairana Assembly bypolls on a BJP ticket after Hukum Singh, the sitting MLA, became a Lok Sabha MP. But while the musical chair is on in the Singh family, the voters say the issues of development and demonetisation and not family legacy will decide their vote.

Mohammed Irfan, selling groundnuts on a cart near Kairana Kotwali, is clear about his choice.

"Akhilesh ne 100 number wali gadi di (PCR vans), Rickshaw bantwaya, ghar bhi dega aur Modi ji ne diya 70 din line main khade rehne ki saza. Hum dihadi chhod kar roz apna paisa nikalne ke liye line mein khade rahe (Akhilesh has given us PCR vans, distributed rickshaws, and has promised houses. Modi has given us only the torture of queuing up for our own money),” he told News18.

Mohammed Shehzad, giving final shape to hukkas in his shop, agrees: "Notebandi ne bahut pareshan kiya. Bazar band ho gaye. Humare liye to Nahid Hasan hi hai is baar (Demonetisation has hit us bad. The market has closed down, our votes are for Nahid Hassan this time).”

Hassan is the SP candidate, son of former MLA Chaudhary Munavvar Hasan, who had died in a road accident in 2008.

So what about the exodus factor?

On the ground people reject Hukum Singh's charge. Bindu, a house wife busy buying vegetables in the main Kairana market, tells News18: “Palayan tho hai per isliye kyonki 2-3 murder ke baad log ghabra gaye the. Hum waise bhi yehan alpsankhyak hain. Per asal mudda hai vikas ka. Yehan koi factory nahi, har kaam ke liye shyamli jaana padta hai. (There is migration, but that is because people were scared after a few murders happened here. We are minorities here any way. However, the real issue is development. There is no factory here, for everything one has to go to Shamli).”

Firoz Alam, a fruit trader, joins in: “Criminals do not differentiate between Hindu and Muslim. The biggest problem in Kairana is lack of employment, lack of education. That is the reason why families are migrating to neighbouring cities of Haryana," he said.

Kairana is just a few kilometers away from Haryana's Panipat and residents complain that unlike the Haryana town, Kairana has no industries, no higher education hubs, no source of employment.

Retail Clothes Merchant V Chauhan says he too will go for the SP-Congress alliance. “Hukum Singh has been an MLA for a long time here. But nothing has happened here. My hope is on the grand alliance,” he says.

Hukum Singh agrees that development is an issue but says bigger issue is security of the people in the area. "Security of people of Kairana is the most important issue in this election. Development is number two. It is a rural constituency, but Kairana is developed," Singh claims.

When asked if he regrets giving a communal colour to the migration issue Singh says, "I never blamed any community. It was misunderstood by some. However, I stand by the allegations that were made. It was made based on facts," Singh said.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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