Bun­delk­hand: Where Ne­tas Are Elec­tion-Time Vis­i­tors

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Jhansi/Jalaun: For decades, Bun­delk­hand has had the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the most back­ward re­gion of Ut­tar Pradesh and com­petes with the likes of Ko­ra­putBolan­gir-Kala­handi in Odisha when it comes to lack of drink­ing wa­ter, power, roads and law and or­der.

Politi­cians have vis­ited the re­gion once in a while, raised con­cerns, made prom­ises and then de­vel­oped am­ne­sia. When Mayawati be­came CM in 2007, she de­manded a ₹ 80,000-crore pack­age from the Cen­tre to de­velop Bun­delk­hand and Poor­van­chal. Rahul Gandhi vis­ited the area in 2008 and spent a cou­ple of nights in the homes of the poor.

Noth­ing much has changed de­spite th­ese visits and noises.

One sees bad roads al­most ev­ery­where. Lo­cals say this is due to over­loaded sand-car ry­ing tr ucks. Strong­men here have en­gaged in il­le­gal min­ing on Betwa river.

In Orai con­stituency of Jalaun dis- trict, a paint-shop owner said dur­ing mon­soons, it be­comes im­pos­si­ble to tra­verse even on the main road where the lo­cal bus-stand is lo­cated. Roads i n Ga­raut h a , Kal p i , Mau­ra­nipur and Ma­hoba con­stituen­cies are in worse con­di­tion.

“This is the most back­ward part of In­dia… A min­is­ter from Is­rael met me and I said we should start with pi­lot­pro­jects…This­place­has­min­er­als and pre­cious gems but peo­ple are dy- ing of hunger. It burns my heart,” Jhansi MP Uma Bharati said.

The power sit­u­a­tion is equally bad. There­has­been­someim­prove­mentin Ga­rautha af­ter a trans­former came up last month — just in time be­fore elec­tions — but it sees power cuts for weeks dur­ing mon­soons. Some pil­grim­age and tourist spots here pro­vide em­ploy­ment to lo­cal youths but most go to Kan­pur, Allahabad or other big cities for a liveli­hood.

The vot­ers say politi­cians hardly do any­thing. Most have used their power to get con­tracts, in­dulge in min­ing (mostly il­le­gal) or seek a cut in build­ing roads and other in­fra­struc­ture.

With the land not be­ing fer­tile, the earn­ings from agri­cul­ture are not enough for small farm­ers. While most here say de­mon­eti­sa­tion may be good in the long run, they say they had dif­fi­culty in sell­ing their pro­duce in the last two months.

All par­ties are again mak­ing big prom­ises. PM Modi has promised to turn­around Bun­delk­hand the way he did Kutch in Gu­jarat. But BSP and SP have let down the peo­ple in the last one and a half decades.

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