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Kairana and Noorpur bypolls: Fates sealed amid stray incidents, claims of EVM glitches

Barring a few incidents of violence, voting in Kairana Lok Sabha seat remained peaceful on Monday.

lucknow Updated: May 29, 2018 14:11 IST
S Raju
S Raju
Hindustan Times, Kairana
Kairana,Noorpur bypolls,EVM
Muslim voters at Prathmik Vidyalaya booth in Thana bhawan Shaml in Kairana. (Sunil Sharma / HT Photo)

Barring a few incidents of violence, voting in Kairana Lok Sabha seat remained peaceful on Monday.

Additional superintendent of police (ASP), Shamli, Shlok Kumar said police had to use force on residents of Bhura village in Kairana when they damaged vehicles and pelted polling staff with stones after the officials stopped a woman who was trying to cast her vote without showing her identity proof.

“A poll official was injured and two trouble-makers were taken into custody. The situation is under control and polling resumed peacefully after a brief halt,” he said.

According to an Election Commission official, Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll saw a turnout of 54.17 per cent.

The village is Gujjar-dominated with over 4,000 voters who are predominantly supporters of the BJP.

Police said skirmishes were reported between supporters of RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan and BJP’s Mriganka Singh.

However, the biggest problem that officials faced was of alleged technical glitch in EVMs.

Reports of malfunctioning of EVMs started pouring in from Muslim-dominated Nakud, Gangoh and Kairana constituencies where voters demanded that faulty machines be replaced.

The issue resulted in a war of words between the leaders of ruling and opposition parties and they lodged complaints with the Election Commission of India and state election commission.

UP sugarcane minister and MLA Suresh Rana and his wife Neeta Rana cast their votes in Thanabhawan.

Rana said non-payment of sugarcane dues was a major issue in the state when the BJP government came to power. “We took it as a challenge and ensured payment of dues,” he said.

However, majority of the residents of Titarsi village, barely 4 kms from Thanabhawan, refrained from exercising their franchise.

Till 11 am, only 126 out of 1,350 voters had exercised their franchise.

“Sugarcane dues are pending on mills and nobody is paying heed to our problems,” said former village pradhan Ajay Singh.

The village has 1,350 voters and Rana had secured 90 per cent votes in the 2017 assembly elections.

Villagers Harpal Singh and Vikram Singh claimed that the situation had changed and people were no longer happy with the BJP.

“The situation improved for the BJP only after the visit of Rana to the village two days ago otherwise people had decided to align with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD),” another villager said.

BJP’s Mriganka Singh is contesting against RLD’s Tabassum Hasan, who is being jointly supported by the SP, BSP, and Congress.

The opposition parties are banking on Muslim-Jat-Dalit equation.

In Muslim-dominated Sonya Rasoolpur village, Mohd Irfan and Gulzar Ali said the voters had foiled the attempt by politicians to polarise election on communal lines.

“People are aware and they know whom to vote. For them, payment of sugarcane dues and employment are bigger issues than caste and religion. Everybody knows who were behind Muzaffarnagar riots and what was their motive,” said a teacher Gul Mohammad.

To villagers belonging to dalit community, Rukmesh Singh and Sharma Singh, said dalits could go to any extent to ensure BJP’s defeat.

People in neighbouring Raipur village made no bones in admitting that they would vote for a Hindu candidate.

Young voters Ankit and Praveen Kumar appreciated the BJP’s efforts to improve law and order.

They said sugarcane dues was no issue as those who were raising it overlooked the fact that sugar mills were still operational and 30 lakh quintal sugarcane had been crushed so far. “How can they say BJP has not taken care of the issue?” they asked.

RLD leader Sunil Rohta said the visits of Chaudhary Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhary to Jat-dominated villages would help in bringing party’s traditional Jat voters back to the party and in forging their combination with Muslims and other communities.

POLLING PEACEFUL IN NOORPUR

Polling remained peaceful in Noorpur assembly constituency on Monday with 61 per cent voters exercising their franchise.

Like Kairana, failure of EVMs remained a major issue during the day. While opposition parties blamed the BJP for tampering with the EVMs, BJP leaders also raised the issue with the Election Commission.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded Naimul Hasan as joint opposition candidate against Avni Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who is the widow of former Noorpur MLA Lokendra Singh Chauhan who died in a road accident in February this year.

Police said former MP and Samajwadi Party leader Yashveer Singh Dhobi was detained on charges of campaigning in support of party candidate.

However, Dhobi refuted charges against him and said he was travelling to a village when he was stopped and taken into custody.

Noorpur has approximately 1.25 lakh Muslim, 33,000 Rajputs, over 40,000 dalits, 8,000 Yadav, Saini and Pal voters each.

Despite Ramzan, Muslim voters came out in good numbers to cast their votes.

First Published: May 29, 2018 14:11 IST