The bridge over river Yamuna near Kalpi town is considered the gateway to Bundelkhand.
The divide between the fertile plains and the hilly terrain is clear. So is the politics, going by the huge hoarding on the side of the highway — “If you stand for a separate Bundelkhand state, vote for Bundelkhand Congress.”
This is the first time a party is contesting assembly election on the statehood issue, said Mohammad Muqim, who runs a provision store in Kalpi.
“Statehood is slowly becoming an emotional issue,” said Bhanu Pratap, a member of the Kalpi zila panchayat.
But as one rolls closer to Jhansi, the writing on the wall becomes clear: statehood is not really a mass issue in the heartland of the Bundelkhand.
“People of Bundelkhand are more concerned about bread than a separate state,” said Gopal Patel, gram pradhan of Mathuwa village — which perhaps explains why the political parties here are not too serious about statehood.
“Though one party is highlighting the Bundelkhand issue, the BSP, which got the resolution passed in the assembly buried it in the assembly election,” said Suraj Maurya, a farmer from Jhansi.
“Candidates speak of statehood for Bundelkhand from the dais, but forget the issue once they get under the umbrella of their party,” said Raja Bundela, president of Bundelkhand Congress, which is spearheading the statehood issue.
“The leaders know that they will not get vote on separate state issue,” said Gauri Shankar Bidwa, a member of Bharatiya Kisan Union. “But even so, riding on the Bundelkhand issue, candidates became MLAs, MPs and ministers, but they did little for the region or its people.” Jitendra Tiwari, who runs Jan Kalyan Samiti, an NGO, is not amused.
“Hundreds of farmers died and thousands migrated when drought hit the area for seven consecutive years,” he said. “Over 18 lakh farmers left agriculture practice and became labourers in metros Delhi, Mumbai and Punjab but political leaders remained a mute spectator to our plight.”