'BPL' factor at work!
A 'BPL' factor is at work in Rajasthan. Vajpayee's road project is there for people to see and appreciate.
A 'BPL' factor is at work in the Udaipur-Chittorgarh belt of Rajasthan. Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee's ambitious road project is there for the people to see and appreciate. But there is a brewing resentment about bijli, paani and the Vasundhara Raje regime's largely unfulfilled promise of waiving off a Rs 10,000 'loan' to farmers.
While this hasn't translated into all-out anger against the BJP, the party's supporters acknowledge that they need to "explain" whenever they go asking for votes among farmers. "We are asked about it. We tell them that they must first clear the balance before they can avail of the actual loan-waiver amount," said Leela Devi, a BJP member in the city.
The expectation — and confusion — over the loan-waiver scheme was evident among farmers in other parts of the constituency.
"We are preparing a list of what people owe," said Shankarlal Gujjar, sarpanch of Katunda, stressing that he would vote for the BJP's sitting MP Srichand Kriplani who is contesting against the Congress' Vishvavijay Singh.
According to Prakash Jain, sarpanch of Parsoli village and a Congress supporter, the question of a loan waiver could become an issue. "Some farmers pawned their jewellery and land to raise the money to pay off the balance and get a waiver," he said. In doing so, they entered into a fresh debt.
Unlike the loan-waiver issue on which questions are being asked, the scarcity of water is accepted as almost inevitable in the state which has faced four successive years of drought. Things are particularly bad in villages. Most wells are dry. In several places, borewells bring out only a trickle as groundwater gets further depleted and the people have to depend on the whims of government-approved, private water contractors.
The erratic water supply, searing heat has hit agriculture. "I got eight bags of wheat from a bigha two years back. Last year there was hardly anything and this time virtually nothing,'' wailed Sohanlal Dhakhad. "Please write that the government should declare this region drought affected so that there is a food-for-work programme again this year."