Bundelkhand: Where Netas Are Election-Time Visitors
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.