The Congress has backed out from the by-elections to Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, apparently to prevent division of votes and help the alliance of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). However, while filing of nomination closed on May 10 and candidates have started canvassing, the Congress has neither announced any candidate nor issued any advisory to the local cadre regarding support to any candidate in the May 28 polls.
In the absence of any directive from the headquarters, local Congress workers are lying inactive and have decided to support the RLD-SP alliance candidates in Kairana and Noorpur, said local party leaders. Former SP leader Tabassum Begum is contesting on RLD’s symbol in the Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll, which was necessitated by BJP MP Hukum Singh’s death. BJP has fielded Singh’s daughter Mriganka.
According to sources, a meeting of Congress leaders in Delhi on May 2 witnessed discussions on two names for the Kairana bypoll. “But we have not received any communication or directive from the party headquarters yet. The party has neither announced any nominee nor asked us to support any other candidate,” said Congress’s Shamli district president Om Prakash Sharma. He added that the party workers, in the absence of any directive from leadership, will extend support to the RLD nominee because she appeared to be strong against the BJP candidate.
Another Congress leader said the party does not want to repeat the “mistake” made in Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls in March. While BSP and RLD had supported SP candidates on both seats, Congress had fielded its own candidates. SP nominees defeated BJP on both seats. “But the victory margins would have been better if Congress had not fielded candidates,” said a Congress leader.
The Kairana bypoll is crucial for all the parties. After losing two Lok Sabha seats to SP in the previous by-polls, the ruling BJP is in no mood to take chances. The party has fielded Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka in an apparent bid to draw votes through sympathy. Also, she is from the Gujjar community, which accounts for more than one lakh voters in the constituency. As the BSP has not fielded any candidate, the BJP hopes to get Dalits votes too.
On the other hand, the RLD-SP candidate is banking on Muslim and Jat votes. Tabassum was elected MP on a BSP ticket in 2009 when she defeated BJP’s Hukum Singh. An SP leader said, “Tabassum has a following in the Muslim community and her son Nahid Hasan is SP MLA from Kairana. The support of SP may help her get votes of Muslims and backward classes. The RLD symbol will help her get Jat votes.”
“Kairana is a communally sensitive area and polarisation of voters had helped BJP win in 2014. So it is good if Congress is not contesting. That will prevent loss of alliance’s votes in Kairana and Noorpur,” said an RLD leader.
In Noorpur Assembly segment of Bijnor district, where the bypoll has been necessitated by the death of sitting MLA Lokendra Singh, BJP has fielded his wife Avnish Singh. SP has fieled Naim Ul Hasan, who Lokendra defeated in the 2017 state polls.
Bijnore district Congress president Dungar Singh said he had sent three letters to the party leadership regarding selection of candidates for the bypoll. “But no response was received. The party has not told so far whether we have to support the SP nominee or not,” he said. He said party workers will not campaign, but will vote for the SP nominee if no directive is received from the leadership before polling.