Published on Apr 25, 2004 05:11 PM IST

Congress candidate from Jharkhand's Godda Furkan Ansari has made problems of farmers the main issue in the elections to attack BJP's sitting MP Pradeep Yadav.

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PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Ranchi

Congress candidate from Jharkhand's Godda Lok Sabha constituency Furkan Ansari has made problems of farmers the main issue in the elections to attack BJP's sitting MP Pradeep Yadav.

"There is no feel-good among the farmers in Godda, because the BJP-led government has left many irrigation projects launched during Congress regime high and dry," the former minister claims in his election meetings.

Ansari, backed by JMM and RJD, also highlights how the NDA government's "ineffective network" deprived the people below the poverty line of foodgrain at subsidised rates.

Ansari alleges the government has taken its eyes off several irrigation schemes like Triveni Dam, Bhairo Bandh Yojna, Sundar Jalashay Yojna and Punasi Jalashya Project.

However, the BJP dismisses all these allegations saying the Vajpayee Government was instrumental in the increased output of foodgrain.

The government has been selling wheat for Rs two and rice for Rs three and those who were not able to purchase even at these rates, there was a food-for-work programme, Yadav said.

Brahmins, Yadav, Muslims and Vaishyas constitute the 12 lakh voters in the constituency, sources said.

Former MP and JD(U) candidate Suraj Mandal, who finished fourth to Yadav in 2002 by-elections securing 42,000 votes, says "last time I contested on my own. And usually I get bulk of votes from my Vaishya community. Now that I have joined the JD(U) I hope to increase my votes from other sections too."

With the Janata Dal(U) embracing Mandal to "teach a lesson" to its senior coalition partner BJP in the Arjun Munda-led Government following refusal over seat sharing with it, poll observers too feel Mandal might improve his share.

However, Suraj Mandal's opposition to Sugabathan Dam Project to cater water to farmers in Godda in mid-1970s is still fresh in the minds of the electorate and "will have a negative impact even among his castemen," claims BJP leader Prem Kataruka.

When asked about it, Mandal said "I did not oppose the project. I just demanded proper rehabilitation package for the villagers who were supposed to be displaced."

With a dozen candidates in the fray, Godda is among the eight other Lok Sabha seats which is going for the second phase of polling on April 26. Polling at six other constituencies was held on April 20.

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