Kairana bypoll 2018: Sugarcane farmers' woes, withdrawal of Muzaffarnagar riot cases among campaign issues
The bypoll to the Kairana Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh will be held on 28 May.
The bypoll to the Kairana Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh will be held on 28 May as the Election Commission announced dates for bypolls to four Lok Sabha seats and 10 Assembly seats across ten states. Kairana bypoll was necessitated following the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh.
The RLD has fielded Tabassum Hasan as its candidate, with support from the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Meanwhile, the BJP has nominated Singh's daughter Mriganka Singh for the seat.
RLD has raked up the issue of dues of sugarcane farmers and claims that this is the central issue in the bypoll. Raj Kumar Sangwan, a senior RLD functionary, was quoted as saying by The Times Of India, "There are pending dues of Rs 750 crore to sugarcane farmers in Kairana even though BJP had made it a poll issue during the 2017 Assembly elections. With elections round the corner, a non-existent Jinnah issue was raked up to sway public attention from the plight of sugarcane farmers."
Jinnah is a reference to the Aligarh Muslim University controversy that had erupted ahead of the polls. "How does it matter whether or not Aligarh Muslim University has a photo of Pakistan’s founder? Our only concern today is cane payment," Jitender Hooda, who supplies to the Shamli factory, which alone has cane dues of Rs 190.33 crore, told The Indian Express.
The Uttar Pradesh minister for sugarcane development Suresh Rana accepted that payments to farmers was an issue. "Yes, there are cane dues, but our mills have already paid more than what they did in the entire 2015-16 season. We are doing everything possible to expeditiously clear the arrears," he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, another issue is the withdrawal of cases pertaining to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. Hindustan Times said in a report that almost all political parties are promising relief from the numerous false cases registered in the aftermath of the riots.
The report further said that after Samajwadi Party MLA Nahid Hasan, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh also assured people that he would take up the responsibility of withdrawing cases by facilitating dialogue between the affected communities.
"Hindu exodus" had also turned out to be an important point ahead of the bypoll. Kairana was the scene of a "Hindu exodus", a controversial claim made by Hukum Singh, pointing fingers at the Muslim population in the area. Mriganka, in an interview to PTI, said, "The exodus of Hindu families from Kairana has stopped. Before the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections hundreds of Hindu families had fled from Kairana out of fear and harassment."
"However, after the BJP government under Yogi Adityanath was formed, the law and order scenario in the region has improved. It is exemplary. At least five or six families, to my knowledge, have returned to Kairana," she added.
Ahead of the bypoll, according to News18, home department of Uttar Pradesh government sent a letter to all divisional commissioners and DGP seeking details of the exodus in the state. The officers have been asked to submit details of families displaced till February 2017, till the BJP government did not come into power, the report added.
The Kairana bypoll is being seen as a prestige battle for the BJP, who lost two prestigious Lok Sabha bypolls in Uttar Pradesh in March after the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party joined hands against it. The BJP lost Gorakhpur, earlier represented by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the Phulpur, earlier represented by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
With inputs from agencies
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