As political outfits scramble to corner minority votes in the three assembly segments of the Meo-Muslim majority Mewat, the social backwardness of the area stands in stark contrast to the promises being made. And the lesson is not lost on the people.
“We need more schools, if possible a university and better avenues of employment. We are not asking for reservation, we just need to get the kind of education that enables us to compete for jobs. Most kids drop out of schools because studying has no incentive; it holds out no promise for us,” said Ghulam Rasul of Sakras village. Rasul is studying in BSc second year, but says has a long way to go before he can think of getting a job.
Mansur Ali of the same village left studies and drives a dumper despite being a minor. “There is nothing else to do. In school there are no teachers so there is no point attending. Better one can drive and earn some. I know it is illegal for me, but again what do I do,” said Ali.
The electorate in Ferozepur-Jhirka, just as in the rest of Mewat, has come to be divided between the restive young who want to break free from the vicious circle of poverty and illiteracy, and the older generation. “The oldies are still Congress supporters, but we can’t see what the party has accomplished for us in the last 10 years. Look at power supply: we get about two to three hours of supply. We also want good basic facilities,” said Tahir Mohammad of Agon village of the assembly seat.
Jafar, a farmer from Ghasera village who had come to get a glimpse of the Congress scion said a story of farmers different from the rosy picture spelled by Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Ferozepur-Jhirka. "I grow wheat but the minimum support price is way less than the cost involved in farming. We need better price and better power supply to grow more. Farming has been dying day-by-day," he said.
At all the seats in Mewat – Nuh, Ferozepur-Jhirka and Punhana – the contest is triangular; but Congress and the INLD seem directly in contest. Last elections, only Aftab Ahmad could wrest Nuh for the Congress and he is yet again in fight this time, but pitted against another Muslim-stalwart and a warrior of many electoral battles INLD’s Zakir Hussain.
In Ferozepur-Jhirka, Azad Mohammad is contesting for the Congress, pitted against sitting MLA INLD’s Naseem Ahmad, while Subhan Khan of the Congress is pitted against sitting INLD MLA Mohammad Ilyas.