In Haryana, aspirations and politics change drastically just 50km beyond the glitz of Gurgaon.
Residents of the Millennium City may want a guarantee of a better life, but the people of rural areas — for instance Mewat — still do not have basic facilities such as water, education, rail connectivity and economic freedom.
“My daughter is studying in the fifth grade in a nearby government school, but she is barely able to read a Class 2 Hindi booklet. The government can’t even give our children basic education,” said Mohammad Sharief of Kheri Kankar village.
Nearly 15 km from the village lies another village called Ghasera. Salman Khan, a student of Class 9 in the senior secondary government school, said teachers come to school, but do not teach. “They just come and sit. Part of the problem is that they come from outside and just want to get transferred back,” he said.
Mewat is caught in the vicious cycle of illiteracy, unemployment and crime.
“We have been backward because we do not have productive employment avenues. We don’t have industries but for the illegal quarrying. There is hardly any water which is why we grow dry wheat and other such crops,” said Mohammad Zakir, a madrasa teacher at Ghasera.
Rising prices have only added to the misery.
“I just can’t save anything for my four children. I am unable to send them to a private school,” said Fakhruddin Ali, a resident of Nuh and fruit-cart owner.
Politics here will centre around development so much so that even the Muslim populace isn’t averse to BJP’s Narendra Modi.
“We support Zakir Hussain who is fighting from Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), but are not averse to Modi as prime minister. We have been told that the INLD will support the BJP after the elections. So voting for Hussain will in fact be akin to voting for BJP. The Congress has ruined the country’s economy,” said Shahnawaz Hussain, member of the Ghasera panchayat.
“If people go for INLD, they will have to deal with the party in power indirectly. But it is in their better interest if they vote for me directly. I am expecting twice the support that I got from Mewat last time,” claimed BJP’s Gurgaon candidate Rao Inderjit Singh.
However, INLD candidate Hussain has trashed all rumours of a tie-up with the BJP. “The alliance is not possible as of now. Rest is up to (party chief) Om Prakash Chautala. The sorry state of affairs in Gurgaon today is because of their candidate Rao Inderjit Singh,” he said.