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LSR alumna Iqra Hasan aspires to make it to Lok Sabha, carry her family legacy

Tripti Nath/Kairana (Uttar Pradesh)

Iqra Munawwar Hasan, a third-generation politician, hit the sugarcane-fringed dusty and nearly non-motorable roads in Kairana in the Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh on the last day of campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections. 

Twenty-eight year old Iqra has been fielded by the Samajwadi Party from an area where patriarchy is stil the order of the day.

“I am nervous and my nervousness is increasing as the election is drawing close, but I also enjoy the confidence of voters as my family members have earned immeasurable goodwill over the years,” she told Awaz-the Voice correspondent who joined her on a tractor.

If elected as a Member of Parliament Iqra wants to do her best to empower women, especially Muslim women, and farmers, improve education facilities, attract investments for industry, and create opportunities for Muslim weavers.

Iqra Hasan addressing an election rally

Iqra says. “My priority is to set up colleges for women. People are not comfortable sending their daughters to co-educational institutions.”

The 27-year-old Iqra did her initial schooling in Shamli. Later, she moved to Delhi and completed her graduation from Lady Sri Ram College. She also did her LLB from Delhi University.

Iqra comes from a family of politcians. She believes that though her privileged background has provided her a platform, she has to make a place for herself. “Being an MP is a huge responsibility,’’ she says.

Iqra’s grandfather, Chaudhary Akhtar Hasan was a member of Parliament from the Kairana constituency for one term. 

Her father Chaudhary Munawwar Hasan was Lok Sabha MP for two terms from Kairana and Rajya Sabha MP too. He served as an MLA from Kirana and was also an MLC.

Her mother, Begum Tabassum Hasan was elected an MP from Kirana in 2009 and her brother Nahid Hasan is a sitting MLA of the SP from Kirana. 

Iqra moves from one village to another on a tractor. She gently appeals to the voters to remember to press the ‘cycle’ button on April 19. 

IIqra Hasan with farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait

On Wednesday afternoon, villagers in the Rajput dominated village of Kheri Khushnam, lined up on both sides of the road to have a glimpse of the grand-daughter of Akhtar Hasan who contested from Kairana on a Congress ticket and defeated Mayawati by 2,44,000 votes in 1984. Party supporters garlanded her on the campaign trail.

Iqra’s party supporters decide the best-suited mode of transport for her- whether it is a red Mahindra tractor in the Kheri Khushnam or an SUV with a sunroof in Lavva Daudpur, another village of Rajputs. 

Miles away from the peaceful environs of the School of Oriental and African Studies in the U.K. where she earned a postgraduate degree in International Law, Iqra appears to be at ease in pastoral Kairana, known for its patriarchal system. 

Chaudhary Raees Rana, 60, who lives in Jola village in Muzaffarnagar, has been camping in Kairana for ten days campaigning for Iqra. He says “I vividly remember the day  in 1996 when I joined the Samajwadi Party in Lucknow.”

Raees Rana’s association with Iqra’s family spans over four decades.Iqra Hasan with Chaudhary Raees Rana

Raees says, “My father, Chaudhary Mehmood Hasan had campaigned for Iqra’s grandfather when he contested from Lok Sabha. This is a family which truly cares not only for its constituency but also people in many districts including Bulandshahar, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, and Saharanpur.” 

Unfazed by the patriarchal system in Kairana, which is part of the National Capital Region, Iqra seems unfazed by the reality that she faces tough competition against the BJP sitting MP Pradeep Chaudhary.

Iqra says she is confident that the electorate will recognize the contribution made by her family over the years. “My father Munawwar Hasan connected very well with people in the constituency. I want to do the same.’’

Iqra is concerned about the law and order situation in Kairana and says that National Crimes Record Bureau figures clearly show a rise in crime against girls and women. 

“Being a woman, I would like to ensure counseling for women who face violence. It is often seen that women are not able to muster the courage to complain about the violence they face. I would like to empower them so that they can speak up.’’ Iqra says.

This young politician also wants to create employment opportunities for Muslim weavers. “Many of them go to work in Panipat (Haryana). The highway is unsafe and some deaths have also been reported. We must have adequate textile units here.”

Iqra Hasan being blessed by women supporters during campaigning

She points out that Kairana is a very peace-loving area where people from 36 communities of different religions live in perfect harmony. “I come from a family of farmers and want to ensure that farmers get better Minimum Support Price for their crops and free electricity,’’ she says. Iqra also wants to improve healthcare in her area.

On the patriarchal system in Kairana, Iqra says, “I agree that this place is very conservative and patriarchal but I follow the norms. I have faced a lot of ridicule in the run-up to the elections. I have been dismissed as a ‘Bachcha’ (a child) but I move on. And I don’t take my privilege for granted.’’

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Dressed in a kurta and trousers with her head covered, Iqra says that she does not feel the need to bring outsiders from her party to campaign for her. “Hum yeh dikhana chahte hain ki Akhilesh Yadav ka adna sa payda hi kaafi hai.’’ (We want to show that Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav’s small foot soldier (like me) is enough’’.

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