For the people of Uttar Pradesh's Kairana, Hukum Singh is not at all a stranger. The constituency from where he won seven assembly elections and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has become barren following his death in February this year. But his daughter Mriganka Singh is confident of taking his father's legacy forward. She is counting on her father's legacy and popularity to get her into the Lok Sabha seat from Kairana where the bypolls will be held on May 28.
She is yet to be nominated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the by-election, but the charismatic leader appears hopeful.
"My father had developed a bond with his constituency over more than 40 years. It had been a long association for him. I have spent time in Kairana and would like to continue the legacy of my father", she said.
When reminded of her loss from the Kairana assembly seat in the 2017 state polls, she said, "I did lose the UP Assembly elections because of the polarisation and the division of votes". The BJP hopeful added that the situation has changed now as the Lok Sabha constituency covers a much wider spectrum of things.
Mriganka Singh also justified her father's controversial statement regarding the Hindu exodus in Kairana. In July 2016, Hukum Singh had claimed that harassment from the Muslim population that had led to a Hindu exodus from Muslim-majority Kairana to nearby Shamli district. He even produced a list of 346 Hindu families who left the district to substantiate his claim. The list was later declared invalid by the then-ruling Samajwadi Party government.
Implying that the exodus had happened, Mriganka said,"The exodus of Hindu families from Kairana has stopped. Before the 2017 UP Assembly elections, hundreds of Hindu families had flown from Kairana out of the fear of harassment."
She added that the law and order scenario has improved under the new government under Yogi Adityanath." It is exemplary. At least five or six families, to my knowledge have returned to Kairana. Presently, I think there is no atmosphere of hostility in the area and I am getting favourable response from all sections of the society."
A by-election will also be held on the same day for the Noorpur assembly seat, vacant following the death of BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Chauhan.
The two bypolls are crucial for both the BJP and the opposition as it sets the tone for the 2019 Parliamentary elections.