Kairana bypoll: Glitches leave BJP, Opposition guessing
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) have heightened the suspense in Kairana bypoll, leaving both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the united opposition equally flummoxed.Updated: May 29, 2018 15:15 IST
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) have heightened the suspense in Kairana bypoll, leaving both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the united opposition equally flummoxed.
“While both sides are claiming that they have been hurt by snag in the voting machines, until results are out none of us can be absolutely sure,” a BJP leader said. The BJP had won four of the five Kairana assembly segments in the 2017 assembly election.
Although bypolls were held in four Lok Sabha and 10 Vidhan Sabha seats across the country, all eyes are on the result in Kairana, where BJP candidate Mriganka Singh’s father Hukum Singh had flagged the issue of Hindu exodus.
The opposition hopes rest on caste arithmetic, BJP’s on Modi magic, says Athar Siddiqui of the Centre of Objective Research and Development (CORD). A Modi rally in adjoining Baghpat less than 24 hours before Kairana went for polls helped the party, BJP leaders claim.
The constituency which shares its boundary with heavily polarised Muzaffarnagar and the contest in Kairana has deeper significance, politicians both from BJP and opposition admit.
Not surprisingly then, BJP had appointed its Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Balyan as Kairana’s election in-charge.
The opposition, excited after the BJP’s defeat in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha by-polls, had done everything that they usually wouldn’t to defeat the BJP.
So, arch rivals Congress leader Imran Masood and SP lawmaker Nahid Hasan joined hands to campaign against the BJP, the SP decided to field its candidate on a RLD ticket. BJP too pulled out all the stops with chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya holding joint rallies.
“Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections apart from testing combined opposition strength, it is also a test of how Jat and Muslims vote,” a BJP leader said.
By fielding a Muslim woman politician of the Samajwadi Party on a RLD ticket the combined opposition parties too are anxiously waiting to discover how Jats and Muslims voted – the two communities whose relationship broke down after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. On the eve of the polls the BJP had rushed to the Election Commission to complain against a Deoband-based cleric Hamid Siddiqui for appealing to voters to vote against the BJP. Kairana has nearly 5.5 lakh Muslims who make up for nearly 35 per cent of the electorate while Dalits and Jats make up for nearly 26 per cent.
Early in the day, joint opposition candidate Tabassum Hasan of the Samajwadi Party (SP), tactically fielded on Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) symbol, rushed her complaint to the Election Commission on malfunctioning EVMs – listing as many as 59 malfunctioning EVMs in the five assembly segments that make up the communally polarised Kairana Lok Sabha seat.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav quickly posted a tweet with updated figure of malfunctioning EVMs – 175.
As if on cue, Tabassum Hasan alleged that majority of the EVMs had gone kaput in localities dominated by Dalit, Muslim and Jats – communities with whose help the united opposition is hoping to embarrass the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Soon BJP followed suit, forcing a joint delegation of SP-RLD to meet EC officials again complaining that most of the EVMs had malfunctioned in Dalit, Jat and Muslim dominated localities.
First Published: May 29, 2018 15:15 IST