27 July, 2021

Unity’s Field Test

The battle against BJP brings Jats, Dalits and Muslims together in western UP

Any Colour But Saffron
An RLD-SP-BSP rally in Khera Gadai, Kairana, UP
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
Unity’s Field Test

As you veer off Uttar Pradesh State Highway 709A, past sugarcane fields, stopping in villages for charcha over chai, you get the sense that people in Kairana know the importance of the May 28 ­bypoll. Kairana was one of 71 Lok Sabha seats that UP contributed to BJP’s 282 tally in the 2014 general elections, enabling the party to win its first majority in Parliament on its own. Kairana is close to Muzaffarnagar, the epicentre of communal violence that rocked the state in 2013. And in 2015, this was where the BJP alleged that Hindus were being chased out by Muslims.

The BJP drove into western UP, including Kairana, on the wheels of development and Hindutva. Now that a section feels ‘development’ has been derailed, it’s the durability of Hindutva that is under question. A combined opposition has fielded a Muslim candidate against the BJP, which would ordinarily have been an ideal situation for the Hindutva party to polarise the electorate along Hindu-Muslim lines. Clearly, the Kairana bypoll will test the Hindutva wheel and the opposition’s...

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