Stung by their promises and lies, farmers in Banda and Chitrakoot have embarked on a novel method to ensure that the promises political aspirants make this election are also kept. They have asked them to fill up a form and make all the promises ‘in writing’. And left with no option, most candidates are doing just that.
One side of the form given to the candidates has loads of sarcasm for politicians, while the other side is a 25-point questionnaire, which seeks promises related to problems of Bundelkhand region — drought, farmerss’ exodus and suicides. It also tests a candidate’s awareness about the region’s problems. So Seeraj Dhawaj Singh, the SP candidate from Banda, wrote: “I will be siding with the people (instead of siding with my party/government)”.
While the SP Government in the State has time and again denied instances of farmers’ suicides in the region, Seeraj candidly admits he is fully aware of the problem. That he knows that the farmers had been migrating due to lack of employment in the region, their starvation due to continued drought conditions and that they are neck deep in debt. Seeraj, as if he belonged to a rival party, even holds government responsible for exploitation of forest and mines.
In fact, all the candidates hold contractors/government responsible for over-exploitation of forest, mines and other natural resources, failure of irrigation system, etc. All the candidates have promised ‘in writing’ that they would work to revive the traditional irrigation and water system of check-dams, ponds, and canals.
The questionnaire has been floated under the ‘Sookha Sangram’ (War against drought) campaign by Karjare Fanda Mukti Aandolan and Aapda Nivarak Manch, Bundelkhand.
Though most of the candidates in fray in the two districts have filled the form before the April 25 deadline, a few are yet to do it. “We have distributed the forms in all villages, so that a candidate is not able to duck the exercise. We have briefed the villagers that if a candidate refused to fill the form, he may be considered to be one who does not want to commit himself to the situation in the area,” said Pushpendra, of the Manch.
The need to have the form was felt after none of the political parties or candidates made Bundelkhand’s drought and farmers’ suicide an election issue. The objective of the whole exercise is to test the awareness of the candidates and make him/her accountable. “We would launch agitations against the winners if they failed to deliver what they have promised in the questionnaire. We have written proof of their promises,” he said. The two districts are going to polls on April 28.