Lucknow: Mriganka Singh is counting on her father Hukum Singh's legacy to get her into the Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh's Kairana constituency, where bypolls will be held on May 28. She is yet to be nominated by Bharatiya Janata Party for the seat which fell vacant on her father's death, but appears hopeful. A bye-election will also be held on the same day for the Noorpur assembly seat, vacant following the death of BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Chauhan.
"My father had developed a bond with this constituency over almost 40 years. It had been a long association for him, and Kairana also happens to be his native place," Mriganka Singh (57) said. "I have spent time in Kairana, and would like to continue the legacy of my father," she added. Her father won seven assembly election before entering Lok Sabha in 2014.
The two bypolls are crucial for the ruling BJP as well as the opposition, as many believe that it may set the tone for the 2019 parliamentary elections. The BJP will make an extra effort to retain both Kairana and Noorpur to send a message to voters, party workers and the opposition that the drubbing it got in the recent Gorakhpur and Phulpur bye-elections is now history.
But opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Congress see the bye-elections as another opportunity to signal that the saffron fortress has been breached. "If the party considers me to be a suitable candidate and if I get the party ticket, there is a lot of respect for my father in the area and I think there will be sympathetic consideration for me," the BJP hopeful said.
Reminded that she had lost from the Kairana assembly seat in the 2017 state polls, she said, "I did lose the UP Assembly elections because of the polarisation which took place then and also due to a division of votes." But she said the Lok Saha constituency covers a much wider area, and the situation is different now.
Kairana was the scene of a 'Hindu exodus', a controversial claim made by Hukum Singh, pointing fingers at the Muslim population in the area. Later, he appeared to backtrack on his own assertion.
But the daughter implies the "exodus" happened.
"The exodus of Hindu families from Kairana has stopped. Before the 2017 UP Assembly elections hundreds of Hindu families had fled from Kairana out of fear and harassment," she said. "However, after the BJP government under Yogi Adityanath was formed, the law and order scenario in the region has improved. It is exemplary. At least five or six families, to my knowledge, have returned to Kairana," she said.
"Presently, I think that there is no atmosphere of hostility in the area and I am getting a favourable response from all sections of society. I have been visiting a number of villages," she said. Asked about her role if she does not get the party ticket, Mriganka Singh said, "I am going to support the party whichever candidate it decides to field. I will discharge my duties as a party worker."
The last date for filing of nomination for the two bye-elections is May 10. In the 2014 parliamentary elections, Hukum Singh bagged 5,65,909 votes, defeating SP's Nahid Hasan who got 3,29,081 votes.
In the 2017, UP Assembly elections, Nahid Hasan defeated Mriganka Singh by 21,162 votes. The Kairana parliamentary constituency, with nearly 16 lakh voters, consists of five assembly segments - Shamli, Thanabhawan, Kairana, Gangoh and Nakur.