For farmers in this agricultural heartland of Uttarakhand the election issues are simple. They want the Neelgais to be kept out of their farms,a reasonable minimum support price (MSP) for their produce and status of industry for agriculture.
This region and the plains of Udhamsingh Nagar form the agricultural hub of this otherwise hilly state and hence are distinct from the rest of the state. Politically too,Hardwar constituency has emerged as a stronghold for Samajwadi Party and the BSP,while the remaining four constituencies are still the domain of the Congress and the BJP.
Farmers here told The Indian Express that the formation of the state has not been able to solve their problems. We are going to tell those approaching us for votes that we will vote only if they put an end to the Neelgai menace, says Dhir Singh Saini of Thaska village. Things have come to such a head that we have stopped growing pulses in our fields as more than 90 per cent of the crop is being damaged by the animal. These days we have to keep a vigil at night to save whatever is left in the fields, he adds.
The farmers complain that even a fifth of the wheat harvest has been damaged by the Neelgais and nothing has been done to check the menace. Be it officials or politicians,our complaints just fall on deaf ears, says Rajinder Singh of Bharatpur.
Satyavrat from Liberheri says politicians seeking their votes need to assure them that the next government will take farmers issues more seriously. Anyone seeking our votes will be clearly told that the government cannot decide upon the MSP without consulting the farmers and it needs to ensure that the money is paid to the farmer well in time, adds Satyavrat,a senior functionary of the Uttarakhand Kisan Morcha. Agriculture must be given the status of an industry. We dont mind paying taxes,but like an industrial audit you need to calculate the cost of various inputs including our labour and the risks we take, he suggests.
Farmers here feel their community has the ability to meet any crisis,but they need to be given a say in the governance. It is true that like other sections of the society we too owe allegiance to various parties on the lines of our caste and community,but we also understand that it is time that political parties stopped taking us for granted, says Jai Pal Singh of Nagla-e-mad village.