The RLD’s Tabassum Begum on Thursday trounced her BJP’s rival Mriganka Singh to wrest the crucial Kairana Lok Sabha seat from the saffron party with a huge margin. Begum was being supported by all the other opposition parties including the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP.
The fight in Kairana had become a test case for the opposition unity ahead of the next year’s Lok Sabha polls. Soon after her victory, a beaming Begum told news18, “Yogi Adityanath had said he will resign if he loses Kairana, he should now.” A Twitter handle in her name also posted a quirky tweet mocking the so-called development agenda of PM Modi. It wrote, “9 KM Road Just Gave 9 Mins Leads To BJP in #Kairana LokSabha.”
— tabassum hasan (@tabasum_hasan) May 31, 2018
This was a dig at PM Modi’s recent inauguration of an expressway connecting Delhi and Meerut even though it later emerged that more than 65% of works on the much-publicised highway was unfinished.
Her leader and former MP, Jayant Chaudhary, hailed his candidate’s win and launched a tirade against the BJP while condemning the saffron party for its sustained attempts to whip up the communal agenda. Chaudhary said that today’s victory was the victory of ganna (sugarcane) over Jinnah, in a reference to the attempts made by the Hindutva brigade to target Aligarh Muslim University for carrying a portrait of Md Ali Jinnah in its students’ union hall.
Chaudhary said, “They tried to rake up Jinnah even though Ganna was the issue. they tried to polarise the community by whipping up communal agenda. When I conducted a poll on Twitter, 100% people voted in favour of ganna and nalka (tube well).”
Chaudhary also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that that since every achievement in the central government is attributed to one person, the defeat in Kairana should also be attributed to that person.
Begum was the candidate of the united opposition in Kairana against the BJP. This was strategically significant given the considerable population of Muslims and Jats here. For the RLD, which is perceived to be a party of Jats, to field a Muslim candidate was a risky proposition. This could have alienated the Jat voters, who have voted for the BJP in large numbers in the last two elections- 2017 assembly polls and the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
Singh’s father Hukum Singh had famously tried to polarise the voters along religious lines when he sensationally claimed that Hindus were being forced to migrate out of Kairana because of Muslims. Although, he later retracted his statement, it had already done the damage polarising the voters across Uttar Pradesh ahead of the last year’s assembly polls, when the BJP won a historic landslide.
However, Mriganka Singh on Thursday, admitted that her defeat was a proof that the strength of the opposition alliance had outsmarted the electoral strategy of the BJP. She said, “Yes we saw the power of the alliance. We will now have to make ourselves stronger.”
Although, there’s been a history of a political party losing bypolls but winning the main elections, but the BJP’s defeat in Kairana is the most explicit indication yet of things to come in 2019 for the saffron party. It’s almost clear that the so-called Modi magic has been a facade, made into reality only by the split in opposition parties. The saffron party won on communal agenda as the parties pursuing non-communal agenda failed to prevent the split in their votes. This explains why Modi, despite securing just 31% votes in 2014, became India’s prime minister.
More recently, the Congress despite securing more votes than the BJP in Karnataka ended up winning fewer seats because it failed to strike a pre-poll arrangement with the JDS. First, drubbing in Gorakhpur and Phoolpur and now humiliating defeats in Kairana and Noorpur, today’s results have abundantly indicated that the pre-poll unity among opposition parties is enough to shatter Modi’s dream to become India’s prime minister again. This is because, of the 282 seats won by the BJP in 2014, 73 alone had come from Uttar Pradesh.