<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Now synonymous with communal polarisation, Kairana was known for many things before June 2016 when reports of a Hindu exodus from the area propelled it to the national spotlight. This was the town that gave name to the famed Kirana gharana of Hindustani music and yes, it was also the stage for a three-decade feud that could rival a Bollywood script with its elements of ‘dosti-dushmani-rajneeti’.With elections in this town in western Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district just days away, it’s a fight between Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Mriganka Singh and Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Nahid Hasan. A rivalry that has its roots in the once deep friendship between Mriganka’s father, BJP MP Hukum Singh, and Nahid’s grandfather, Akhtar Hasan.It’s a case of multiple identities, say locals. Not just for the friends turn foes but for the town itself which prides itself as being the birthplace of Abdul Karim Khan (1872–1937), a doyen of the Kirana school of music, and for its linkages with artists like Begum Akhtar and Mohammed Rafi.Many things changed in June last year when Hukum Singh released a list of Hindu families who had allegedly migrated from their homes due to extortion bids made by “criminals belonging to a community”.Many, especially Muslim residents, were outraged. There was disbelief too. How could Hukum Singh, who had represented Kairana seven times as an MLA, defame the Muslim community? After all, the debate had rarely turned communal even during the height of his feud with Akhtar Hasan.”The fight has always been among two political families and not parties. On the one side is Hukum Singh’s family and on the other is Akhtar Hasan,” said Mohammed Naseem, a local SP leader.Even though the family rivalry is now three generations old, Nahid doesn’t speak directly against “Hukum Singh sahab”, who had mentored his late father Munawar Hasan.”The families are still on talking terms and at a personal level they even help out each other when in trouble. But elections are a different ball game altogether,” said Ajay Sharma, a member of Mriganka’s team.Of friends, son and grandsonBorn in Kairana in 1938 into a Gurjar family, Hukum Singh completed his LLB from the Allahabad University before joining the army in 1963. He served as a captain in Poonch and Rajouri sectors in Kashmir during the 1965 India-Pakistan war before entering politics. He also served as minister under both the BJP and the Congress governments.Akhtar Hasan was a prominent figure among the Muslim Gujjar community who and allowed his son Munawar to be mentored by his good friend Hukum Singh.Things however changed in 1984, when Hukum Singh and his protégé Munawar parted ways. Nobody is quite sure what happened. “Some say he (Munawar) wanted a greater role in the party. Nevertheless, the rivalry began then and it is now 33 years old,” Meharban Qureshi, lawyer and adviser to Hukum Singh, told DNA.Elders in the town say the rift cost Hukum Singh dearly given the large Muslim population of the Shamli district. “Remember, one who rules Kairana rules entire Western UP,” Qureshi said.Hukum Singh had first won elections in 1974 from the Congress, then from the Janata Party (Secular) in 1980 and then again from the Congress in 1985.His downfall was led by Hasan senior who won against Hukum Singh in 1991 on a Janata Dal ticket. Like Hukum Singh, Hasan too changed sides multiple times, joining the SP as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). But his reign ended in 1995-96, the year Hukum Singh joined BJP.Hukum Singh won three consecutive state elections. In 2008, the Hasan family suffered a major setback when Munnawar died in a car accident.The fight, however, did not end.Enter Nahid, Munawar’s son, a business graduate of Sydney’s Holmes Institute who had thus far been kept away from politics. His father’s death meant he had to join politics when he was just 18. After completing his studies, Nahid came to Kairana to work full time. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he was defeated despite working on the ground for almost three years.With Hukum Singh winning an MP seat, by-polls were held for the assembly seat soon after the riots in nearby Muzaffarnagar. Hukum Singh fielded a distant relative, Anil Chouhan, to tackle 26-year-old Nahid.Nahid won the seat, becoming the youngest MLA of the country and restoring the seat of power to the Hasan household.The daughterIt seemed smooth sailing after that. But only till June 2016 when Hukum Singh alleged a Hindu exodus. Many in the SP camp believe he did so to promote Mriganka, whose campaign centres on the alleged mass exodus.The BJP camp here seems fractured after Anil Chouhan, who left the party when Mriganka was promoted and joined Ajit Singh’s RLD.”I have too agendas. Defeating communal forces and development of the people of Kairana irrespective of their caste, creed and religion. BJP has done a lot of damage last year by basing false accusations against Kairana people. It’s my duty to rectify it,” Nahid said.Will Kairana listen to him? Or go for Mriganka? Or Chouhan? Once family, now bitter political foes.