Election 2024: 'Communal raga' from UP's Kairana

Set to vote in the first phase on April 19, the Kairana Lok Sabha constituency, a pivotal battleground, is bubbling with anticipation, renewed hopes and strategic manoeuvring.
Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.

LUCKNOW: The parliamentary constituency – Kairana-- is known by one assembly segment famous all over the world for 'Kirana Gharana' of Hindustani classical music, established by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan in the early 20th century.

In the recent history, Kairana is known for its 'communal raga'. The assembly segment is part of the Shamli district which suffered from communal violence in the neighbouring Muzaffarnagar in 2013. It also hit the headlines for the alleged exodus of Hindus before the 2014 Lok Sabha, an issue which helped BJP veteran Hukum Singh wrest the seat from the rival political family of Munnawar Hasan in 2014.

The constituency is dominated by Muslims who make up 5.5 lakh of the total 17.2 lakh electorate.

Set to vote in the first phase on April 19, the Kairana Lok Sabha constituency, a pivotal battleground, is bubbling with anticipation, renewed hopes and strategic manoeuvring. The battleground is war-ready for a three-cornered fight.

While the BJP has reposed faith in sitting MP Pradeep Chaudhury, SP has fielded Munawwar's daughter Ikra Hasan, a law graduate from London. Her brother, Nahid Hasan, is a sitting MLA from Kairana while her mother Tabassum lost to Chaudhary, a Gurjar, in the 2014 polls.

Meanwhile, BSP has fielded a retired BSF jawan Sripal Singh Rana, who can make the path of the BJP candidate difficult as he is already fighting the anti-incumbency of the last five years.

As the campaign gains momentum and the political discourse gets shriller, the issues dominating the political landscape of the western UP constituency include socio-economic development, infrastructure, along good governance. The demographics present a diverse electorate with a near-even gender split, a significant rural population, and a notable representation from marginalized communities, emphasizing the complexity of this electoral battleground. The common refrain on battleground Kairana is the issues of unemployment, development along with law and order.

If Sanjay Rajwanshi, a trader, in the Beghumpura market, feels that the voter of Kairana would focus more on PM Modi’s popularity and his style of governance, Kabir Ahmad, in his 70s, claims that the upcoming battle is going to be a fiercer one between the BJP and the SP with a conspicuous tilt in favour of SP candidate Ikra Hasan. In the same market, a stationary shop owner Gaurav Singhal feels that poll in Kairana is polarised on communal lines. Nafees, on the other, feels that it is an election between locals (Ikra Hasan) versus outsiders (Pradeep Chaudhury).

Image used for representation.
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The politics of Kairana revolves around two prominent political poles – one dominated by Hukum Singh whose father Man Singh had organised the Hindu Gujjar community under ‘Kalsyan Khap’. The other belonged to the former MP Akhtar Hasan, Ikra Hasan’s grandfather. He had unified the Muslim community under ‘Hasan Chabutara’. The two clans have faced each other in electoral battle for several decades. However, Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka couldn't carry forward the winning streak and lost the Lok Sabha by-poll necessitated by the demise of her father in 2018 to Tabassum Hasan and in the 2022 assembly poll to Nahid Hasan, a Hasan family scion.

While a section of voters feels that Chaudhury was invisible on ground zero for the last five years, others feel that sentiment is not for the BJP but its candidate. People also voiced support for Ikra Hasan claiming that she had been working on the ground and nurturing the constituency for the past two years. On the contrary, the BJP cadre feels that Chaudhury, despite facing anti-incumbency and a weak track record as an MP, could sail through riding the popularity of PM Modi and CM Yogi.

"The alliance with RLD will also come in handy for Pradeep Chaudhury,” says a senior BJP leader. While the BJP leadership is weaving its narrative around law and order, development, and the Ram temple, Ikra Hasan is playing up the imminent fear of change in the Constitution of India if the BJP comes to power.

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The New Indian Express