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2017 UP election: Why Kairana is more important for BJP than Ayodhya, Dadri

The proverbial cat had, in fact, jumped out of the bag the moment BJP president Amit Shah expressed his anguish over the "Kairana exodus" openly in front of the ruling party’s national executive members at Allahabad on Sunday. Replace the word 'cat' with 'electoral strategy' and you would get a glimpse of what all is in store in battleground Uttar Pradesh. And also reveal why the hell Kairana ranks higher than even Ayodhya or Dadri in the saffron camp’s current scheme of things?

To understand all this in the proper perspective, you need to focus on two things: Kairana’s location and socio-religious composition of the population in these parts of the far-flung state. This otherwise obscure, non-descript small town is situated hardly a hundred kilometres away from New Delhi in the heart of Muslim-Jat belt in Shamli district of Western UP.

 2017 UP election: Why Kairana is more important for BJP than Ayodhya, Dadri

Representational image. AFP

It’s this area that had witnessed an informal but well-publicised rebellion against the establishment. Believe it or not, there existed a parallel government in the area under the leadership of Choudhary Mahendra Singh Tikait in the late 1980s. Nobody would pay revenue dues – neither taxes nor electricity bills. The writ of the state just didn’t run there. And government officials, including those belonging to the police department, thought twice before venturing into this region.

Before the Tikait era, Western UP happened to be the political stronghold of former Prime Minister Choudhary Charan Singh of the AJGAR fame. AJGAR was a suggested caste alliance of the Ahir, Jat, Gujar and Rajput castes. These caste groups put together, in fact, made an unbeatable political force.

Nobody could beat Choudhary Saab’s party during his hay days – not even Indira Gandhi’s Congress. And let’s not forget that Mulayam Singh Yadav, who happens to be an Ahir by caste, is an avowed follower of Chaudhary Saab. In the later years, the AJGAR had expanded into MAJGAR – with the induction of Muslims into this invincible political force – making it even more formidable. But all this is history.

The present scenario in Kairana is vastly different for two reasons: First, it’s no longer a peaceful area with allegations that a section of Hindus, who have been at the receiving end in the aftermath of the Muzaffarnagar communal violence, are deserting the area in what is being described even by Amit Shah as an “exodus”. And second, both AJGAR and MAJGAR have withered away with the passage of time.

Taking up the first point first, you may recall that the current strongman of Kairana’s politics, Hukum Singh, has already given to the union home minister a list of 346 families which had already migrated to other safer areas because of persistent “threat and extortion by criminal elements belonging to a particular community”.

Singh, who represents the constituency as a BJP MP, further says that there have been at least ten communal killings in the area in the past three years. It’s like a mini-Kashmir, he adds. What has added poignancy to the Kairana issue is that even the National Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to the Akhilesh Yadav government in Lucknow seeking a response.

The district administration, which is conducting an inquiry into the allegations, doesn’t seem to see eye to eye with Hukum Singh’s view-point. But the general impression that there can’t be any smoke without fire persists. And now with the BJP president raising alarms over the issue in front of the party’s national executive members at Allahabad, it would hardly be surprising if Kairana is indeed viewed as a mini-Kashmir.

Coming to the second point, much water has flown down the Ganga since the demise of the politically potent AJGAR and MAJGAR groups about 35 years ago. Newer socio-political combinations have replaced them. While Muslims and Ahirs have gravitated towards the Samajwadi Party, the Jat community – which had raised a banner of revolt in neighbouring Haryana earlier this year – find themselves in doldrums.

They are in a fix. The BJP is in no position to take them for granted any longer. How to bring them back into the party-fold is their biggest challenge. Who knows Kairana might polarise the society to their advantage in the Muslim-Jat belt of Western UP in particular and the poll bound state as a whole in general?

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And it would work as an icing on the cake if the Kairana issue happens to suit Mulayam Singh Yadav too. For, it is no secret that the Samajwadi Party, just like the BJP, does well in a polarised atmosphere – thanks to its Muslim-Yadav vote bank.

You may recall that in 2014, all the 19 Lok Sabha constituencies in the Jat belt in Western UP – from Saharanpur to Fatehpur Sikri – had been bagged by the BJP. The Jats had voted almost en bloc with other Hindu castes and sub-castes for the BJP in the aftermath of the Muzaffarnagar communal violence. To be fair to the saffron camp, however, it must be said that Narendra Modi’s impassionate appeal for a “vote for hope and development” had also worked wonders.

Here comes the question of the day: Have the BJP and the SP discovered a political goldmine – a winning formula – at Kairana? Nobody knows for sure.

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: Jun 13, 2016 12:36:52 IST

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