Saturday, February 11, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Polls 2012: Govt apathy fades Mayawati's charisma in her backyard

Polls 2012: Govt apathy fades Mayawati's charisma in her backyard
Published: Saturday, Feb 11, 2012, 10:00 IST
By Manan Kumar | Place: Pindara | Agency: DNA

Widowed 20 years ago, Lalta Devi, a Harijan (Jatav), is unable to
marry off her 22-year-old son Santosh Kumar. For, she does not have a
house, not even a rickety mud hut and she worries where her daughter
in-law would sleep. Lalta doesn't want her to die like her daughter
Sushila Devi, 16, who succumbed to harsh winters two years ago.

But right now, she has more urgent problems to attend. The head of
Bikrampur village has asked her to vacate the 12 square feet open land
where she cooks, eats and sleeps.

There is no hope in future either, for she does not have widow
pension, MNREGA card or even a ration card. And she has no clue about
the Indira Awas Yojna or the Mahamaya Awas Yojna that can give her

The realities of life are as stark for Dalits in several villages
across this Pindara assembly segment, 35 km from Varanasi, as they
perhaps were before Independence.

The lingering poverty and complete apathy of the administration here
tells the bitter truth of government run by the BSP that became a
political force to reckon with mainly because of the polarisation of
22 per cent Dalits in UP, of which Jatavs are a majority.

"Mayawati is hugely dependent on this traditional vote bank. There are
signs of not only MBCs (Most backward castes) getting distanced but
also upper castes because of a resurgent Congress under Rahul. In this
precarious situation even a slight shift in Dalit votes can put
Mayawati in big trouble," says Rajni Ranjan Jha, professor in
political science, Banaras Hindu University.

In the Dalit basti between Khalispur and Deoji villages, two km off
the state highway, all 200 families are landless and dependent on
either scarce farm labour or MNREGA to live. But they got only 14-20
days of work under MNERGA in 2011. Scarce farm labour does not fetch
them much as upper caste and OBC land holders have shifted to
mechanised methods.

This has forced most Dalits to work in brick kilns that trap them in a
new form of bonded labour.

The literacy and awareness levels are abysmal as families prefer young
hands to earn than to hold pen and paper. The whole Basti has only
three hand pumps and no toilets. The nearest health centre is 12 km
away in Pindara.

The two houses constructed under government schemes lay bare the
shoddy work done by the contractors. The one room structures are not
plastered, the floor is just earth and bare brick walls are losing
strength. The houses have no toilets.

Jarauti Devi paid a bribe of Rs 15,000 to a Gram Sabha secretary in
2010 but house still remains a distant dream for her. And like most of
her caste she has to fend her family from harsh winters and summers by
constructing mud walls and covering it with plastic sheet or dried

Feeling cheated by the government, their faith in the BSP is wavering
but still sticks because of Mayawati. It is the question of sharing
biradari with Mayawati.

But the feeling is not shared by the Valmikis who come lower in
hierarchy and Dussadhs, Dhobis, Mooshars and Passis who are above
Jatavs. Likewise, the MBCs feel cheated by the Mayawati government for
not looking at their interests but promoting her own caste or caring
for the upper castes because of Satish Mishra factor.


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