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'Modi wave is no longer that effective'

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf
Last updated on: May 31, 2018 16:34 IST
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'Farmers' issues will rule the narrative in the 2019 elections.'

IMAGE: 'If Modiji is credited for small clerical decisions, then he must bear the brunt for losses,' says Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Tabassum Hasan, the Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate, has defeated her Bharatiya Janata Party rival Mriganka Singh in the Kairana Lok Sabha by-election.

The by-election was necessitated by the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh, whose daughter Mriganka Singh was the BJP candidate.

Mriganka Singh had also lost the 2017 assembly election to the Samajwadi Party's Nahid Hasan.

Tabassum Hasan is Nahid Hasan's mother.

The Kairana loss is the third defeat in a Lok Sabha by-election for the BJP in UP this year.

The Samajwadi Party wrested the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats from the BJP, seats previously held by Ajay Singh Bisht, now UP's chief minister, and Keshav Prasad Maurya, now the state's deputy chief minister. Ashraf spoke to RLD Vice President Jayant Chaudhary -- the late Uttar Pradesh political legend Chaudhary Charan Singh's grandson -- who is being credited for the party's victory.


Your reactions on the victory in Kairana.

I would like to thank all parties -- the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Communist Party of India, the Peace Party, the Nishad Party and all the other parties who supported us.

What were the issues that made you win?

We are winning the election on the farmers issue. Issues faced by farmers are the only thing that matters in Kairana.

There were many attempts to polarise society by spreading communal poison during the election, but people have rejected that agenda.

It is said you concentrated on 'Ganna' (sugarcane) and the BJP concentrated on Jinnah in the election campaign after the Aligarh Muslim University controversy.

Ganna triumphed. Ganna trumped Jinnah (in Kairana).

Was development the only issue you focused on?

That was our line. That was the thrust of our campaign and that was effective.

Will things change for the Opposition parties after the Kairana election?

Things will get better for us after the Kairana election.

Lots of people who were against the BJP and their communal agenda will come out openly and speak out now. This will create an atmosphere in favour of the Opposition.

Have Jat voters come back to your party?

I won't comment on Jat voters, but the farmers' identity in politics is very important.

We have realised that. Farmers' issues will rule the narrative in the 2019 elections.

You were fighting against the huge BJP machinery in the election. What was the vibe you were getting during campaigning?

Our campaigning was on a micro level. We had no money power and didn't have the high voltage, high decibel that the BJP has for its campaign. Our campaign was a stark contrast to them.

We did not do any big meetings. We reached out to our voters.

We were able to connect emotionally to the voters. We only spoke about real issues. That is why our campaign was better received.

Will the Kairana election result be a referendum on Narendra D Modi's performance for the 2019 electios?

If Modiji takes credit for even small clerical decisions taken by the government, then he must bear the brunt for losses.

You cannot say a win owed to the Modi wave and if it is a loss then it is some local issue.

To a certain degree, there is dissatisfaction in the way the economy is being run; the way the farmers are (being treated).

Farmers are very angry with the state government of Uttar Pradesh which is ruled by the BJP and also the central government.

Modiji put a personal effort too (in this election). On May 27, the prime minister inaugurated a highway project of which only 9 kilometres was completed!

He tried to divert the attention from Kairana to a larger canvas, but that attempt also failed.

It is obvious that people will now say the Modi wave is no longer that effective.

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf /