Sangeet Som's Kairana agitation is the last thing BJP wanted

Brijesh Pandey
Brijesh PandeyJun 18, 2016 | 16:12

Sangeet Som's Kairana agitation is the last thing BJP wanted

It was a conflicting moment for the BJP. The party, led into the Kairana trap by its local MP Hukum Singh, saw another warrior from its western Uttar Pradesh stable, Sangeet Som, take out a Nirbhaya padyatra on June 17.

This padyatra, in the backdrop of both the party and its MP making a u-turn, changing their communal exodus argument to one of migration owing to criminal intimidation, was perplexing. A day before, Singh had told mediapersons that he had asked Som not to take out the Nirbhaya padyatra and restrict his activity to the town of Sardana only.


Som, however, was defiant or at least he pretended to be. In this day and age of 24X7 media attention, he feigned ignorance about any such statement by Singh and reiterated his commitment, amid chants of "Bharat Mata ki Jai" by 15-20 of his supporters, of taking out his padyatra.

He told this correspondent, with utmost seriousness, "The only purpose behind this yatra is that we want to give people a message: don’t be afraid, we won’t let Kairana become another Kashmir.”

Though “Kairana exodus” was mentioned several times in speeches of BJP president Amit Shah, it did not turn out the wat the BJP wanted it to.

When you ask Som how the list prepared by his own party MP was so erroneous, Som counters you with his own list, and to add credence, says that even a news channel has authenticated it.

You ask which ones, and he feigns ignorance, but insists that some paper or channel has found his list genuine. When you ask him why he wants to take out his padyatra when the administration has imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Kairana, he says nonchalantly, “Let the administration do its own thing, I will do mine." The only concession he was willing to grant was that he won’t take law and order in his own hands.

Hukum Singh. 

In the middle of several interviews to various channels and publications, the time for the start of the padyatra came and went. There was barely any crowd at 10am which was the official time for the padyatra to start. A person close to Som said that this was because of the administration's clampdown on various villages, with people not being allowed, as a result, to come for the padyatra.

Half an hour passed and then people started coming in batches, with the BJP flag in their hands and "Bharat Mata ki Jai" on their lips. As time passed, Som made two appearance at the gate, triggering enthusiasm among his supporters. The padyatra finally began, an hour-and-a-half behind schedule, with a motley group of 500-700 people, with Som in the middle wearing a red turban.

Though the padyatra lacked the numbers, it had all the characteristics of the social mobilisation that this part of Uttar Pradesh had witnessed before. The second, this motley crowd of 500-700 people spots a Muslim face or a group of Muslims, the chants of "Jai Shri Ram" reach a crescendo. To be fair to Som, he and his close associates kept on urging the crowd, on the loudspeaker, to behave and not do anything which would threaten the law and order. 


The local administration, though, stopped the padyatra after it travelled for a good couple of kilometres, but the purpose was served. Repeated queries on how the local administration could allow two padyatras, one by the BJP and another by the Samajwadi Party when section 144 was in place, didn’t elicit any response. Som has now threatened the Uttar Pradesh administration with another padyatra within 15 days if his demand of getting back the people who had been forced to migrate from Kairna is not met.

The party high command in Delhi, however, is reportedly not very happy with Som's padyatra. Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya stated that the party had nothing to do with Som's programme or the thought behind this.

So what led Som to take this defiant stand?

A BJP leader from western Uttar Pradesh said that to understand Som's actions, you have to go to its background. “It was the Muzaffarnagar riots which got him into national prominence. The Kairna issue was a godsend for him. How can he go back on his core competence? You have to remember that it is situations like these which made Sangeet Som THE Sangeet Som. Now to expect him to ditch it when Assembly elections are round the corner is just wishful thinking,” the BJP leader said.

Meanwhile the BJP continues firefighting on the Kairana issue but one can rest assured that we have not heard the last on this contentious issue.

Last updated: June 20, 2016 | 11:14
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