Meerut: Hastinapur – the capital of the Kauravas in the Mahabharata – may have lost much of its glory, but it still has a reputation of deciding who will rule Uttar Pradesh. Since 1957, whichever party has won the constituency in the western UP district has also formed a government in Lucknow.
Congress candidate Bishambhar Singh won the seat defeating Pritam Singh of the Communist Party of India (CPI). The party eventually ascended to power in Uttar Pradesh. It ruled Lucknow till it continued winning Hastinapur.
In 1969, the Congress lost the seat to Bharatiya Kranti Dal’s (BKD) Asha Ram Indu. The BKD was formed by Chaudhary Charan Singh after he parted ways with the Congress in 1967. Singh later went on to become the state’s chief minister.
The Congress regained power in the state in 1974 with Revti Raman Maurya winning the Hastinapur seat. Maurya won the elections on a Janata Party (JP) ticket and Ram Naresh Yadav went on to become the JP CM.
In 1977, the Congress lost the seat in the Janata Party wave and the state saw a government led by Ram Naresh Yadav of that party. He later joined the Congress. In 1980 and 1985, the Congress won the seat and saw a string of party leaders becoming chief ministers, including VP Singh, Sripati Mishra, ND Tiwari twice and Vir Bahadur Singh for brief tenures.
In 1989 the Hastinapur seat went to Janata Dal (Socialist) candidate Jhaggad Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav became the CM.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) formed the government in UP in 1996 after its candidate Atul Khatik had grabbed the Hastinapur seat.
Locals point out that when Hastinapur in 1996 elected an independent candidate – Atul Kumar, no party got an absolute majority. And therefore, President’s Rule was imposed for some months. It was during this period of turmoil that Hastinapur turned to its lone independent legislator.
However, the same political situation prevailed through much of the 1990s.
In 1990s, the state saw Mulayam Singh’s second tenure (1993), several BJP chief ministers (Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh) and the rise of Mayawati, who became the chief minister twice (1995 and 1997).
In 2002, Samajwadi Party’s Prabhu Dayal Balmiki, who is sitting of the constituency and the party’s candidate for the forthcoming polls, first won from Hastinapur in 2002. He again emerged victorious in 2012 by a narrow margin of 6,641 votes defeating BSP candidate Yogesh Verma. Simultaneously, Akhilesh Yadav became the state’s chief minister.
Verma is once again contesting the polls on BSP ticket from the seat. The BJP has fielded Dinesh Khatik, a young candidate who is hoping to ride on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP had finished fifth in the constituency in the 2012 assembly polls but had remarkably improved its position in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, getting the maximum votes from this assembly segment.
Hastinapur is the only reserved constituency in Meerut district and will vote on February 11 in the first phase of Uttar Pradesh’s seven-phased election.
Hastinapur has an estimated 300,000 voters with Muslims and Gujjars being the two main communities. Dalits too have a considerable presence.
But despite ensuring that the wind blows from Hastinapur to Lucknow, the only reserved constituency in Meerut is awaiting development. Hastinapur was developed by the same architect who had designed Chandigarh. But now both the places are incomparable.
Instead of holding their MLA and the government in the state for non-development of their constituency, the residents of Hastinapur believes that the area cannot ever be developed because of the curse of Draupadi had cursed the Kauravas that they would pay for their acts after they attempted disrobing her.