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Local issues matter, Judeo, Telgi don?t

For the rural voters of Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts that fall on the Pakistan border, Union minister Dilip Singh Judeo and stamp scamster Abdul Karim Telgi are no issues.

india Updated: Nov 21, 2003 01:47 IST

For the rural voters of Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts that fall on the Pakistan border, Union minister Dilip Singh Judeo and stamp scamster Abdul Karim Telgi are no issues.

For that matter, no one is even talking about AICC president Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin — an issue which the BJP had hoped to rake up to its advantage.

Even the BJP's Ram mandir finds no mention in these border districts. It's not that they are either ignorant about the Ayodhya issue or the fact that Sonia Gandhi was born in Italy. For them their parched fields and compensation for the army's mining operations are the main issues that would decide their voting pattern.

"Irrigation water and compensation are what we are bothered about," says Uday Singh a resident of Karanpur. However, he is quick to add that the clean image of the candidate would also be the criteria for his selection. Airing similar views, Ashok of Ganganagar said the government still owed the villagers compensation for two crops.

While he blamed the district administration for its failure to carry out surveys in time, he claimed that even the Centre had been evading the compensation issue.

In urban areas in these districts, local issues dominate the poll scene. The poor sanitation conditions, deteriorating law and order, unplanned development, traffic congestion and health are top-of-the-mind issues.

However, national issues, particularly corruption, are certainly going to have some bearing on the voting pattern in urban areas.

Sushant, a college student of Ganganagar, said, "The Judeo episode is nothing less than the Tehelka expose and is a national shame. It exposes the hollow claims of the BJP providing a clean government."

Saying that political corruption was a major poll issue, Sukhwinder Singh of Suratgarh town said that rather than Judeo and Telgi, the clean image of individual candidates would certainly count. He felt that with the media highlighting the Judeo case, candidates with dubious and corrupt image would find it difficult to garner support.

The BJP's Ram mandir is a non-issue here. With only a marginal presence of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, no one is taking about it.

And as far as Sonia Gandhi's foreign origins are concerned, since these polls would not decide the country's Prime Minister, no one is giving much importance to it. "Leave this issue for the Lok Sabha polls," said a Ganganagar-based advocate.

Issues and non-issues

•For rural voters, irrigation and compensation for Army’s mining operations are chief issues

• In urban areas, sanitation, law and order, health are top issues

• Candidate’s clean image matters to both urban and rural voters

• Sonia foreign origin doesn’t matter as polls won’t decide the PM

First Published: Nov 21, 2003 01:47 IST