Tu idhar udhar ki baat na kar,yeh bata ki qafila kyun loota/ Humein rahzanon se gila nahin,teri rehbari ka sawaal hai (Dont talk about hearsay,tell us why the caravan was looted/ We are not complaining about passersby,its your leadership thats being questioned)
As the crowd in this moffusil town broke into applause on the last day of campaigning,BJP leader Sushma Swaraj recalled the background to this couplet,which she had recited during a Lok Sabha debate last year. Striking an instant chord with the crowd,she went on to launch a tirade against Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs leadership on how it has failed on the twin fronts of tackling corruption and price rise.
She also raised the issue of minority appeasement by the Congress and the manner in which it had advocated religion-based quota.
A day earlier,addressing a rally in Shahjahanpur,BJP leader L K Advani had underlined how the Congress has given nothing but misgovernance in the 40 years it ruled UP and 55 years that it has been in power at the Centre. He compared the UPA to a Communist government,where the official head did not really have any say. It is Sonia Gandhi who controls the reins of the UPA government,not the PM, he told the crowd.
The BJP narrative in the UP campaign stands out for doggedly pursuing the attack on the Congress and the UPA. Its leaders have not left any chance to remind voters that the root cause for all the problems they have been suffering from price rise to lack of development,and of course,corruption lies at the door of the Congress.
Of course,their guns are also trained at the BSP,with the likes of Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar lashing out at the Mayawati government for corruption in the NHRM. In Nawabganj,Swaraj pointed out how the BSP slogan changed from Bahujan to Sarvjan to serve only members of Mayawati family. The SP is targeted for its goondaraj lawlessness that it has been associated with in its last term. But the focus of the BJP is clearly the Congress.
There is a resonance of the issues of price rise and corruption among the average voter,though not necessarily an attempt to connect them with the UPAs governance. Farmers throughout the Bareilly-Shahjahanpur sector complained about the high prices of fertilisers that has rendered farming an unprofitable venture.
Shyam Singh Gangwar,a 60-year-old farmer with a 10 bigha holding says it is increasingly becoming difficult to make ends meet. Each bigha gives a yield of 35 to 45 quintals of sugarcane or two-three quintals of wheat. He was among the lucky ones to get a price of Rs 240 per quintal for his sugarcane which he had planted in four bighas. For wheat,which he planted in the rest,he is expecting price of Rs 1,100 per quintal. Prices of fertilisers and labour have skyrocketed,while wheat and sugarcane prices have gone up only moderately, he said.
A katta (bag) of MPK or DAPK,he said,cost Rs 900,and he needed two bags for his 10 bighas.
Finding labour has become an even more difficult problem,and farmers put the blame on the MNREGA scheme. Brijlal,a farmer in Nigohi,says the labour are getting diverted to MNREGA projects where they are paid Rs 130 per day. But it is not only the higher rate of Rs 130. Even if we are willing to match the wages,they do not want to work for the full day as they are making the same amount by working for only two hours in MNREGA projects, he says.
Many hold the view that the BSP government has done several misdeeds. Lashing out at Mayawati,Rajesh Sahgal in Lakhimpur claimed local BSP activists have made crores in the last five years. His friend said that Chief Minister Mayawati came to Lakhimpur a few months ago but no one was allowed near her.
Well defined caste loyalties,however,overshadow whatever grievances they hold on price rise and development. In Nawabganj,SP candidate Bhagwat Sharan Gangwar,who has represented the area twice,has a string of cases against him and his son Atul. Two years ago,Atul Gangwar went on a firing spree in Nawabganj and killed one after he was refused spare parts for his vehicle,but SP supporters arent apologetic about it.
Likewise,talk to a Jatav and point to the NHRM scam and statues,he says its all a conspiracy against Mayawati. Suresh Chand Bodh,a Jatav from Bamiyana village,says Mayawati has fulfilled Ambedkars dream. Chota admi sar utha ke ji raha hain, he said.