“I have given my vote to the party that promised jobs and houses to the poor,” Shanti Devi, a 60-year-old voter at a polling centre in Murad Nagar, said.
Devi’s son died because of a heart ailment in December and his wife is now forced to work as a domestic help. “She is not able to feed her two children. We don’t have a house or a job to make a living,” Devi said.
Rural and urban residents differed in their priorities while voting on Saturday. While the rural voters gave more importance to jobs, houses, growth opportunities and safety in remote towns, the urban voters were more specific about the development requirements for their areas, the need for a better administration and improvement in women security.
“In small towns, there is hardly any development and growth opportunity for youngsters. There are ample opportunities in other states, but not here. Women safety is a big issue for us. Forget about evening or night, I dread stepping out even during the day,” Shivani Verma, a software engineer from Murad Nagar who works in Noida, said.
“I think there have been enough of freebies distributed from public money. All this should stop and funds must be utilised for public works,” her sister Priyanka said.
Seventy-year-old Abdul Hafiz stressed on the need to have a ‘sakht hakim’ (strong administrator) to rule the state.
“This time, there were many communal riots in UP. Earlier, no such incidents took place. The demonetisation made us stand in queues and our lives were in pain,” he said.
Nearly 28km from Murad Nagar, Ashish Singh and his wife Nisha arrived at a small primary school where residents from Kaushambi high-rises cast
“There has been a lot of awareness this time among voters. I voted for growth and development. There are lot of pollution related issues in Kaushambi and a case is going on in the National Green Tribunal. I think there has to be a better coordination between the Centre and the state and I have voted keeping that in mind,” Singh said. His wife said women security is a major issue that determined her vote.
Far away in Modi Nagar town, which falls under the prime sugarcane belt in western UP, farmer Pawan Kumar from Sikri Khurd narrated his ordeal of pending payment for his sugarcane produce that he supplied to sugar mills.
“We are asked to supply daily but payment remains pending for one to two months. How do I run my household? We are fed up with corruption and goonda activities. My priority for voting is not development, it is my pending payment,” he said.
However, Mohammad Shahwez from Modi Nagar was happy to vote as his aim was
getting free laptops and a smartphone.
“Kaam ko salaam hai sir ji (the one who works will get benefit)... local issues take a back seat when you get facilities in your hand,” he said.