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UP's Kairana connect to Karnataka politics: SP’s Iqra Hasan weaves poll campaign around Anantkumar Hegde's ‘will change Constitution' remark

Hegde’s statement, amplified by the Iqra is the talk of the town. At a public interaction last month, the SP candidate was heard raising apprehensions about the BJP’s intent to achieve a two-thirds majority.
Last Updated : 10 April 2024, 20:28 IST

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Kairana (Uttar Pradesh): The link between Karnataka and Kairana, a non-descript borough in western Uttar Pradesh goes back a century and more.

The doyen of Kairana Gharana in Hindustani classical music, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, born in Kairana, inspired legends of Khayal singing in the Hubli-Dharwad belt, including Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

But none would have thought that this election season 27-year-old London-educated Samajwadi Party candidate from Kairana, Iqra Hasan, would weave her campaign around Karnataka BJP MP Anath Kumar Hegde’s ‘will change Constitution' remark.

Hegde’s statement, amplified by the Iqra is the talk of the town. At a public interaction last month, the SP candidate was heard raising apprehensions about the BJP’s intent to achieve a two-thirds majority.

In the clip, which has since gone viral on social media, Iqra, whose grandfather, father, and mother have represented Kairana in the Lok Sabha, says if the BJP “crosses 400 seats, then there will be changes in the constitution. Laws will be introduced that will make us second-class citizens in this country.”

Politically speaking, the alarm is being raised to address three communities -- the Muslims, Dalits, and Backwards.

While the first is the key constituent of the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, the latter two are very much part of the BJP’s catchment areas. Especially the Dalits, who have been demotivated by the Bahujan Samaj Party’s indifferent approach to electoral politics since 2019.

Iqra’s playbook, in her maiden elections, is a pick from Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s messaging against “attempts to change the constitution.”

The iteration is aimed at mobilising communities that derive affirmative action and protection from the Constitution- SCs, STs, Minorities, and Backwards. Together, they would make up more than 80 per cent of the electorate. Kairana has all four in abundance.

“The infringement on the basic rights may happen if the BJP were to win two-thirds or more seats. There ought to be a push-back against such attempts,” says SP leader from Kairana, Dr Sudhir Panwar.

Sensing trouble, the BJP has been quick to issue disclaimers -- from top to bottom. The party has distanced itself from Hegde’s statement and denied him a ticket. At a rally in Saharanpur on the borders of Kairana, PM Modi launched a counter-offensive alleging Congress’ manifesto has an imprint of the pre-Independence Muslim League.

At the local level too, BJP is attempting to clear any doubts.

The sitting MP and BJP candidate Pradeep Kumar is attending a meeting at Panjokhara village near Kandhla on Shamli road. The village has pockets of backward and Dalit votes.

In his short address at the forecourt of the primary school, Kumar is at pains to clarify "constitution change" allegations.

“They have started to spread the message that a 400-plus target is being sought to achieve some objective, whatever it is. So, you have to be very careful in making up your mind,” he clarifies before the audience.

In the 2022 assembly polls, SP-Rashtriya Lok Dal combine won all three seats in the Shamli districts which are part of the Kairana LS constituency. This includes the Kairana assembly won by Iqra’s brother Nahid Hasan.

The SP-RLD alliance successfully counter-communally surcharged politics in the region after riots in the adjacent Muzaffarnagar district fuelled further by allegations of ‘Hindu migration’ from Kairana by former BJP MP and local strongman Hakum Singh.

Iqra, it is said, was keen on contesting the LS elections on the RLD ticket but with Jayant Chaudhary switching sides at the last moment, she has had to change tack. 

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Published 10 April 2024, 20:28 IST

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