Residents of Bicchiya village of Unnao discussing election issues in their constituency.(HT Photo)
Residents of Bicchiya village of Unnao discussing election issues in their constituency.(HT Photo)

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: National issues important but development rules the roost here

Heated debates over political issues are common over a cup of tea at roadside stalls in UP. HT had a look into the hot topics of debate in villages of Unnao and Rae Bareli. While issues like nationalism and air strike across LoC seemed important to people, local issues like development still dominate their mind
Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By Saurabh Chauhan, Unnao
UPDATED ON APR 02, 2019 02:09 PM IST

It’s breakfast time when 4-5 middle-aged people gather at a tea stall near Gokul Baba temple in Magarwara village of Unnao.

After ordering tea and ‘kachori’ at the eatery, the villagers engage in a political discussion after one of them reads a report on the minimum income guarantee scheme promised by Congress president Rahul Gandhi if the party is voted to power.

“Ye bhi to satta me rahe, kya de diya? (They were in power to, what did they give to the people),” says septuagenarian Dahsrath Yadav, a resident of neighbouring Maswasi village.

The discussion also touches issues like nationalism and air strike across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan after a terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama (J&K) which claimed the lives of at least 41 personnel.

However, local issues regarding basic amenities and development dominate the discussion.

Sanjay Kumar of Magarwara who works in a private factory in Kanpur says: “We have to elect a government to run the country. Obviously national issues will rule the roost but what about other issues like development and basic facilities? We can’t ignore them too.”

Om Prasad, the owner of the eatery, also chips in: “I was working at a tannery in Kanpur but I was fired after the government shut down slaughterhouses. Whatever money I had, I invested in this tea stall. Rozgaar dene aaye the, chheen kar chale gye (They had come on the promise of job creation but ended up snatching our jobs).”

But will they vote for the party in power?

“Abhi bahut samay hai. Sab kuchh dekhna hai. Samasya bhi dekhenge lekin leader dekhna bhi zaruri hai. (We have lot of time. All aspects have to be seen. Problems will be deliberated on and we will also consider who the leader is),” says another villager.

Claiming that the issue of national security is important but it is not the only issue, a local resident Prakash Pasi says the government acted tough against Pakistan but it is a separate issue.

“We want solution to other problems too,” he says.

In Bichhiya village of Unnao, Prabhu Dayal is frying ‘samosas’ at his shop while waiting for customers.

“Our village has many farmers and they face numerous issues. The government claims to have helped us but our fate has yet not changed,” he adds.

His brother Ram Prasad rues that Rs 2,000 were deposited in his account under the Kisan Samman Yojana but were auto-debited from his account the same day.

“Was this some kind of joke” he asks.

A customer at the stall Lalji Kumar says, “Ab to Priyanka Gandhi bhi maidan me hai. Congress ko fayda to hoga. (Now, Priyanka Gandhi is also active. Congress will gain).”

Another resident Rati complains she was also not paid Rs 2,000 under Kisan Samman Yojana.

However, villagers say that the amount was reversed by the government from the bank account of some farmers after it was found that they were not eligible for the benefit.

Sipping tea at a stall, Bansi Lal of Ghurkhet village asserts: “The Modi government has done many things to regain national pride. This is the first time when the Indian army entered Pakistan.”

However, his friend Ram Khilawan confronts him saying: “What about jobs and poverty?”

In Akohari village of Rae Bareli, a group of senior citizens are also discussing politics.

“Those who have been benefitted with government schemes have soft corner towards Modi but those deprived of it are against the government,” a villager says.

As another villager suggests that Mahagathbandhan (SP-BSP-RLD) alliance is also an option, former gram panchayat pradhan Ram Aasre says, “These are smaller parties and will support either Modi (BJP) or Rahul (Congress). Better we directly vote one of these two.”

In Lohra Mau village, which has around 40% Dalit population, people are not much vocal. One of the villages says, “Though Dalit people may not like to go with SP but since BSP is in alliance, their candidate may get some votes.”

In Sataon village, people wish that Priyanka should contest from Rae Bareli.

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