Govt Buying New Weapons, But Will it Help farmers? Ask Villagers in UP’s Barabanki Ahead of Phase 6 Polls
As the staggering seven-phased Lok Sabha elections moves eastwards in the politically crucial state of UP, campaigning in the parliamentary constituency of Barabanki has intensified.
File photo of agricultural lands in Barabanki.
Lucknow: It is business as usual in Bhitariya, a small village that sits on the border of Barabanki and Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. The menace of stray cattle continues to ravage produce here and farmers are busy scurrying around buying barbed wires to fence their fields.
One such farmer is Virendra Singh, who is fraught with the barbed wire that have gone up to Rs 100 per kg. “Either you fence your field or you lose the entire crop. I have sown peppermint plants and I have to guard them from stray animals,” he says, his words, a reflection of the looming agrarian crisis that plagues the village.
As the staggering seven-phased Lok Sabha elections moves eastwards in the politically crucial state of UP, campaigning in the parliamentary constituency of Barabanki has intensified, with BSP’s Mayawati and SP’s Akhilesh Yadav being the latest to address rallies here on Wednesday.
This comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a mammoth public rally on Tuesday in Barabanki. Earlier, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also visited the district which comprises of five assembly seats, including Kursi, Zaidpur, Ramnagar, Haidergarh, Dariyabad and Barabanki.
However, according to farmers like Singh, these high-decibel campaigns led by politicians have failed to translate into any meaningful groundwork or policies aimed at alleviating their problems.
After a little talking, Singh opens up. “Our kids fill forms for various jobs, but every time either the paper is leaked or the matter reaches the court. What about the money our kids pay for buying the forms? There are no jobs and we are just concerned about the future of our kids,” he says.
About 89% per cent of Barabanki’s population resides in rural areas, while a mere 10% is concentrated in the urban areas. The constituency houses around 19% Muslim population along with 12.5% Yadavs, 11% Rawats, 10.83% Kurmis, 10.75% Brahmins and 9,75% Kshatriyas.
Ramesh Yadav, a farmer from Safdarjung area of Barabank, says that he has been using bamboo sticks and his wife’s old saris to build a fence around his fields. “We don’t have enough money to afford barbed wries, you see,” he says.
Like many others, Yadav also thinks that PM Modi has a good foreign policy. However, “he should also give attention to his ‘home policy’,” he says.
“Farmers have been the worst hit in last few years. If this continues, farmers will be finished completely in the time to come,” he says, adding, “We hear a lot about buying latest weapons for the country, but how does it help the farmers? Also, we have not seen them working.”
Akbaruddin, who travels daily from Zaidpur to Lucknow to work at a barber shop in the state capital, echoes the laments of many in the region, who were adversely hit by the shutdown of Barabanki sugar mill. “Ours is a small village. After the mill was shut, the sugarcane farming here was badly affected,” he says.
While his father continues to toil on the fields, Akbaruddin chose to travel to Lucknow in search of a better livelihood. “Farming has been badly hit in recent years and I can’t just depend entirely on it to sustain my family,” he says.
This constituency will be seeing a triangular contest between SP-BSP mahagatbandhan candidate Ram Sagar Rawat, Tanuj Punia, who is the son of senior Congress leader PL Punia and BJP’s Upendra Rawat.
In the last general election, the Barabanki reserved parliamentary seat was won by BJP’s candidate Priyanka Rawat, who, riding on the ‘Modi Wave’ of 2014 bagged 4.54 lakh votes. Congress’ PL Punia stood number two with 2.42 lakh votes, and the SP and BSP candidates, bagged 1.67 and 1.59 lakh votes respectively.
BJP faces the challenge of retaining the seat after the party denied ticket to incumbent MP Priyanka Rawat. The decision has left Priyanka Rawat’s supporters miffed, who have been opposing the saffron party’s pick, Upendra Rawat.
Barabanki will go to polls on May 6 in fifth phase of polling.
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