Dalit or not, the common cry is for khaad, beej and houses across
villages voting today
D K Singh Posted online: Wed Feb 08 2012, 00:49 hrs
Lucknow : The disenchantment with Mayawati's government is visible not
only in her core constituency of Dalits, who give her an 18 per cent
edge over rivals at the very start of any election, but also in its
non-Dalit votebank, which had propelled it to power in 2007.
A strong undercurrent of resentment over governance issues threatens
to scuttle her 2007 social engineering formula. Farmers, whether Dalit
or non-Dalit, are resentful about a scarcity of fertilisers and their
black marketing, especially during the wheat-sowing months, besides
that of seeds. Many are also resentful about not having got a house
under any government scheme.
Sitting in a temple in Ram Nagar's Kuntir village, believed to have
been built by the Pandavas' mother Kunti, Mahant Ramanand Das, a
Kurmi, says he voted for the BSP in 2007 but will "vote for Beni
Prasad Verma" this year. "She has done everything for elephants,
nothing for humans."
He was referring to the statues and memorials all over the state.
Mayawati has released a two-page newspaper advertisement defending the
statues. "Nobel Prize winner and economist Amartya Sen writes that the
habit of bahujan samaj to keep silent is the biggest shatru in
securing social justice. But I had understood this reality long back.
And, therefore, I took such policy decisions that would have
far-reaching results and got such sthal (parks/statues) and memorials
built, which would exhibit the aan-baan-shaan of the bahujan samaj for
centuries," Mayawati wrote in the ad.
Pointing to the Kalpavriksha, a huge tree associated with myth, Das
says the Mulayam Singh Yadav government had given Rs 25 lakh for its
At Ram Nagar kasba, Chhotelal and Ramlal, both Dalits, are polishing
shoes. "I have four children and we live under a thatched roof, which
cannot withstand even rain. I have met everybody, from village pradhan
to administration official, but nobody is ready to sanction a house,"
says Ramlal. Asked if they will vote for the BSP, both say they will
vote for "whomever everybody (Dalit) votes for".
At Masauli village in Zaidpur, Munna, a Muslim, complains how he paid
triple price for urea to black marketeers "at 2am" right outside the
authorised distributor's shop. "There was no such problem during the
Mulayam regime," he says. Stopping by to join the conversation,
Ramsharan Prajapat adds, "During Mulayam's time, people took money but
fertilisers and seeds were easily available."
Asked if he got a house, Shamhu Kahar, a Dalit, says, "We get no
schemes. They are all meant for bade aadmi." About 300km away,
Hasimullah of Bhaisahiyan in Khalilabad constituency, says, "Yes,
two-three houses were built under some scheme, but I have got one."
At Mehrabari village in Sahajanwa, Umesh Chandra Tripathi says that
never since his childhood has he seen paddy or wheat being procured at
MSP by any government agency. In the village's Harijan Basti, Ramhit
has got a house but Chandrawati and Bindu have not because they didn't
have the money to pay to those sanctioning the house under a
government scheme. Asked if they will or won't vote for Mayawati, they
giggle. Ramhit intervenes, "She (Mayawati) is sending money but people
pocket it midway. What can she do?"
B N Tiwari of Patharbajari village in Domariyaganj had voted for the
BSP but is undecided now. "There is such a crisis of fertilisers and
seeds," he says.
At a Rahul Gandhi rally last Saturday, Ayodhya Prasad asserted
Brahmins are shifting towards the SP only but others believed many of
them would also vote BJP or Congress. Asked what problem they face
most, there was unanimity: "Khaad (fertlisers)."
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