Facing yet another political jolt, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost both the Kairana Lok Sabha constituency as well as the Noorpur assembly seat in the bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, the results for which were declared on 30 May.
The RLD candidate in Kairana bypoll, Begum Tabassum Hasan, who later got the support of other Opposition parties as well, defeated Mriganka Singh, the BJP candidate and the daughter of Hukum Singh, whose death had necessitated the bypoll. Hasan defeated Singh by more than 55,000 votes (counting was still on at the time of filing), thus wresting the Lok Sabha seat from the BJP.
With her victory, Hasan, who is the wife of former MP Munawwar Hasan, has become the only Muslim Lok Sabha MP from UP. But this is not her first time in the Lok Sabha. She was first elected to the lower house in 2009 on a BSP ticket after her husband Munawwar Hasan died in a car crash in Haryana.
Similarly, Samajwadi Party candidate Naimul Hasan won in Bijnor’s Noorpur by 6,211 votes, defeating Avani Singh wife of the Lokendar Singh, the BJP MLA from the seat whose death in a road accident led to the bypoll.
What is even more noteworthy is that it seems the anger against the government overrode the sympathy votes that the death of the political leaders could invoke among the electorate.
The Kairana Lok Sabha constituency has five assembly seats in it — Kairana, Shamli, Thanabhawan, Nakud and Gangoh. Importantly, if one analyses the votes according to the assembly seats, it turns out that the BJP won only Shamli and Kairana segments with small margins. The saffron party lost in the other three assembly seats.
The BJP’s loss in Kairana and Noorpur should worry not only the party strategists but also chief minister Yogi Adityanath, under whose regime the BJP faced the earlier humiliating defeats in Gorakhpur and Phoolpur, and now again in Kairana and Noorpur. The BJP had won the Kairana seat in 2014 by a margin of more than 2.5 lakh votes, so whatever has happened in the past four years under the Modi government is quite obviously the reason.
Many senior leaders of the state unit of the ruling party were extremely upset with the loss as they said the party had invested all its strength in the bypolls. Many of them told Newsclick that the BJP’s defeat in Kairana — after its defeat in old bastions like Gorakhpur and Phulpur as well as the loss in Karnataka — sends warning signals about the incumbency.
“See, the loss in Kairana is not about one bypoll. It is about the people feeling unease. What we managed to convey everywhere was that people are feeling happy about the government and majority of Indians would still vote for Modi ji in the next general elections as well. That is what the newspapers also published on the fourth anniversary of the Modi government,” said a local BJP leader in Shamli, speaking anonymously to Newsclick.
“But the party’s repeated losses like this will only prove that the happiness and support that the Modi government supposedly enjoys is not backed by electoral results. Repeated defeats like this will also set in a mood of anti-incumbency, which will only go up if the party and the governments do not do anything about it,” added the party leader, who called himself a friend of late Hukum Singh.
Nahid Hasan, the son of Tabassum Hasan, who is an MLA from Kairana told Newsclick that BJP lost the bypoll because of anti-incumbency, failure to fulfil promises made to farmers and the public at large, and the absence of division of votes.
“Look, attributing this victory only to the unity of Opposition parties will be like misreading the public mind. Of course, the absence of division of votes was at play, but the same party that lost the Lok Sabha seat had won it with a margin of 2.5 in 2014. What changed so much in the past four years that the margin of 2.5 was reduced to a loss by more than 55,000 votes?” he said while addressing the media, after a reporter declared that the RLD candidate won only because of Opposition unity.
Hasan, who hails from an influential political family, said that in defeating the BJP in Kairana, the Opposition had “buried the arrogance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath.”
“Our victory would certainty have been much bigger had the faulty EVMs not been used here. But I am happy to say that we have buried the arrogance of the PM and the CM in the dust. I am confidently saying that the BJP will get only 3 seats in the next general elections,” said Hasan, who studied till the matriculate level and did her schooling from JBS Kanya Inter College, Saharanpur, while addressing the media after her victory.
The BJP MP from Muzaffarnagar, Sanjeev Baliyan, who was one of the five BJP poll supervisors, conceded defeat and said, “Of course, we tried to propagate about the development works that the PM and the CM had done for the people. But I think sometimes the politics of caste and religion plays out adversely. We will analyse the results and find out what went wrong,” Baliyan told the media.
Jayant Chadhary, vice-president of the RLD, told the media that it was a “victory of cane farmers.”
Sudhir Panwar, a senior SP leader told Newsclick that the “anti-incumbency against Modi and Yogi governments was quite palpable on the ground. The ruling party could not see that anger among the farmers, the working class, the masses.”
“I had earlier told Newsclick that the victory of the RLD candidate, who is being supported by the SP, the BSP and the Congress, was almost certain. I had also said that the results will show that the BJP’s Hindutva politics will not work. That is precisely what happened,” said Panwar, a former member of the UP Planning Commission, told Newsclick.
“Look at the manner in which Yogi Adityanath kept on raising the issue of Muzaffarnagar riots in all his election rallies. He also tried to polarise by raising the controversy around Jinnah and said he would not let his portrait be put up anywhere in the state,” he said.
“The Prime Minister almost campaigned for the bypolls through proxy and addressed a public meeting in Baghpat just a few hours before the polls. The entire party from the CM to the PM had invested their energies. But they were defeated. It only shows that their communal politics is not going to work any more. By voting for a Muslim candidate, the Jats have shown that they can not be fooled once again,” said Panwar, adding that the Kairana bypolls paved the way for a much stronger Opposition.