In Kairana, a stronger opposition and a verdict for change: Tabassum Hasan emerges as face of united Opposition

Kairana, Uttar Pradesh: As expected, the high-profile Kairana Lok Sabha seat in western Uttar Pradesh went to Tabassum Hasan, the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ candidate who won with a thumping margin of over 30,000 votes, giving Uttar Pradesh its lone Muslim Parliamentarian in the 16th Lok Sabha, even for 12 months if it is.

Tabassum Hasan, 47, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate, was backed by the Samajwadi Party (SP), Congress and even Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), which however, came out neither openly nor officially in her support.

File image of RLD's Tabassum Hassan who won the Kairana bypolls. PTI

File image of RLD's Tabassum Hassan who won the Kairana bypolls. PTI

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the BJP had swept Uttar Pradesh winning 71 seats — one of the highest figures — not a single Muslim candidate could make it to Parliament. The Congress was restricted to 2, Samajwadi Party to 5 and Apna Dal to 2 seats. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) could not even open their accounts. BSP ended up with no seats despite having claimed third largest

“This is the victory of truth and ‘Mahagatbandhan’ (coalition) and defeat of the BJP in the state and Centre. Everyone has come out and supported us. I thank them. Other parties have supported us too. The best part was that there was no need to ask people to vote for us. With this big win, the 'Mahagatbandhan' has come out very strongly. From today, this coalition will prove to be very strong,” says Tabassum, after defeating BJP’s Mriganka Singh, 57, the daughter of parliamentarian Hukum Singh, whose death led to the bypoll.

'Politics is begging, for love and affection'

Tabassum adds, “Politics is begging, not only for votes but for love and affection. It is seeking blessings from one and all. I remember during campaigning, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had commented that my party supremo Chaudhary Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary were begging for votes. I strongly condemn his statement, but would also like to say that Yogi doesn’t know the ABCD of politics. The path for a united opposition is clear in 2019. At any cost, BJP ko 2019 mein dhool chatani hai (in 2019, we will do our best to stop BJP).”

“We believe in live and let live, we meet everyone, sit with everyone and take everyone along. We live in peace and harmony,” she said.

She hit out at the BJP, saying the party and its candidate never spoke about real issues. “When it comes to real issues, they have nothing to say. They bring up issues like photos of Jinnah. After all, Jinnah was from here, but after Partition, that changed. They don’t take up the real issues of farmers,” bemoans Tabassum.

New Chapter in UP

The victory of Tabassum Hasan is being seen as a polarisation of Jat, Dalit and Muslim votes in western Uttar Pradesh. The Kairana parliamentary by-election is also gaining traction as a major experiment before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and the opposition is looking forward to trounce the BJP again.

The opposition parties, including RLD, have been accused of sharing a political platform against the BJP. They have tried to sway farmers in their favour by telling them this election was about 'Jinnah versus ganna' (sugarcane). Thus, Thursday’s results have not only succeeded in giving birth to a new political framework in western UP, but also paving the way for the alliance in future.

Tabassum, known as a master in politics, is educated only till high school, but has political pedigree and has inherited her family legacy. In 2009, Tabassum was elected MP from Kairana on a BSP ticket. She then joined the Samajwadi Party before ending up in RLD. Her office has a portrait of her husband Munawwar Hasan, who had represented Kairana in the assembly and Lok Sabha. He died in a road accident in 2008.

Tabassum's father-in-law Akhtar Hasan was Congress MP from Kairana in 1984. Tabassum’s son Nahid Hasan is a Samajwadi Party legislator from Kairana. Her family’s presence is felt not only in Kairana but also in Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha constituency. Three generations have been in politics and represented three major parties of this region -- Congress, BSP and SP -- and the latest association is RLD.

In 2014, when Hukum Singh won the Kairana Lok Sabha seat and vacated the assembly seat, the pocketborough returned to the Hasan family -- Nahid won the 2017 assembly elections on an SP ticket, defeating Mriganka Singh.

It was the Hasan family, especially Nahid Hasan, who played an instrumental role during the Muslim-Jat riots of 2013 in Muzaffarnagar and parts of Shamli district, by providing their own land to build shelter for victims of this bloody clash.

Political commentator R R Jha, who is also professor at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), says the election should not be seen as an anti-BJP verdict, but be taken as “a verdict for change”.
“This is nothing new, but a repeat of what happened in 1993. At that time, Mayawati and Mulayam came forward and people voted for them, despite Hindutva (Babri demolition) being the biggest agenda. People had high expectations from the Modi government, but it seems they want a change now. It happened in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and now in Kairana and Noorpur,” Jha says, adding that people want development and are not happy with the present government.

He said it is too early to talk about the future of the alliance as the time for political posturing is yet to come.

“Much will depend on political circumstances and the situation during the Lok Sabha polls and after, but the BJP should start revising its strategy if it wants to be at the Centre for another term. Politics is the game of possibilities and makes for strange bedfellows,” he concluded.

Authors are freelance writers based out of Uttar Pradesh and members of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters


Updated Date: Jun 01, 2018 07:32 AM

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