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Kairana Bypoll: BJP Employs VHP for ‘Hindutva’ Consciousness Among Dalits to Blunt Mayawati Plan

The Kairana Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of sitting BJP MP Hukum Singh in February. Tabassum Hassan is contesting on a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) ticket, is the joint candidate of the opposition parties. ​

Uday Singh Rana | News18.com@UdaySRana

Updated:May 22, 2018, 2:13 PM IST
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Kairana Bypoll: BJP Employs VHP for ‘Hindutva’ Consciousness Among Dalits to Blunt Mayawati Plan
File photo of BSP chief Mayawati. (Image: Reuters)
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Shamli: As the dust settles over government formation in Karnataka, the political action now moves to western UP with a Lok Sabha bypoll in Kairana and an Assembly bypoll in Noorpur.

The BJP, stung after bypoll defeats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur earlier this year, is not taking any chances. To stop the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) from transferring its vote share of mostly Dalit votes to the joint opposition candidate, the BJP is using the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to reach out to Dalit voters. This, a source said, would help create a “Hindutva” consciousness among Dalits.

“We should not have lost the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls. We got complacent and our biggest mistake was underestimating Maywati’s influence among her supporters,” said a senior BJP leader, adding, and “this time, we are not going to repeat the same mistake. We have already sent out VHP and Bajrang Dal workers to the field to sit with Dalit voters, dine with them and convince them to vote BJP.”

A VHP leader told News18, “We are using several of our Dalit leaders and activists. It is important that ahead of these polls, Dalits view themselves as Hindus. Even BJP MPs are canvassing for the party. For example, just this week, Rajya Sabha MP Kanta Kardam, who happens to be a Dalit herself, was on the ground visiting Dalits. Since she is a Jatav, a community that has usually voted for BJP, it will have an impact on the polls.”

Vivek Premi, VHP’s student wing head in Western UP, said this was also part of a larger project for the organisation. “We should not see this in connection with the elections. To create a larger Hindu consciousness is a larger project of the VHP. We have been creating caste-harmony from the very beginning.”

The last two months have witnessed caste tensions in western UP, first with the Bharat Bandh in opposition to the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, then with the arrest of Dalit activists in the region and finally, with the death of a Bhim Army leader’s brother in Saharanpur. Two of Kairana Lok Sabha area’s 5 assembly segments fall within Saharanpur district.

When asked if there was Dalit resentment against the BJP, the president of the party's Western UP unit Ashwani Tyagi, said, "All communities are with the BJP. Unlike the opposition, we are not doing caste calculations. Our workers are going to every house and are being welcomed with warmth."

The largest group of voters in the Kairana Lok Sabha area is Muslims, with a total of 5.26 lakh voters. This puts the SP-RLD joint candidate Tabassum Hassan at an advantage over her BJP rival Mriganka Singh. Dalits, with 2.25 lakh votes, form the second largest chunk of voters. A senior Samajwadi Party leader and close confidant of former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said, “Dalits were already disenchanted with the BJP and SP-BSP coming together for bypolls has given them a viable alternative. With the recent events, of Bharat Bandh and the Saharanpur tension, this will give us a bigger advantage.”

The Kairana Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of sitting BJP MP Hukum Singh in February.

After losses in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls, BJP leaders don’t want to leave any stone unturned in Kairana. In this constituency, Mriganka Singh is up against the member of another prominent political family from Western UP. Tabassum Hassan, mother of Samajwadi Party MLA Nahid Hassan, who had defeated Mriganka in the 2017 UP Assembly Elections from Kairana.

Tabassum Hassan is contesting on a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) ticket, is the joint candidate of the opposition parties.

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