The issues of nationalism and scrapping of special status of Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370, it seems, do not have much traction with farmers in Haryana, where campaigning for October 21 assembly polls ended Saturday. The issue is discussed threadbare at village chaupals as does the split in Indian National Lok Dal and lack of strong opposition.
“Deshbhakti was at its peak when we voted in Lok Sabha polls this summer. Surgical strikes, national interest…was on our minds when we went to polling booths. But this time, the scene is different,” says Nambardaar Omparkash as he puffs on a a hookah at village chaupal in Charkhi Dadri Assembly constituency. Omparkash owns 7 acres land in the village.
Sher Singh, another farmer with five acres of land, pitches in: “Agreed that the special status of J&K has been scrapped, but that doesn’t mean I will go looking for land there. The fact is that I have no money to buy a plot even in Charkhi Dadri!” as Omprakash passes on the hukkah to Sher Singh, Surajbhaan, another Nambardaar from the village, lists the issue that matter. “Our crops are not being given proper price. I have to stand in queue for hours to sell the crop to produce which I spend Rs 2000 on rent of tractor alone. The water level is going down and we are not getting electricity for upto eight hours a day”.
In village Kakroli Sardara and Kakroli Hukmi, the discussions are centred around Modi factor and Khattar factor. Hawa Singh, a resident of Kakroli Sardara, says that it was Modi factor that helped Manohar Lal Khattar form government in 2014. “But, the CM never came to meet us and listen to our problems,” he says.
Krishan Puniya, a marginal farmer from Kakroli Hukmi, gives voice to the dilemma faced by those looking for a change in Haryana. “The INLD has split and Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) has emerged…No idea who will get a clear majority”.
INLD leader Abhay Chautala had earlier said that in case of no clear majority, his party will be the deciding factor. “We will not go to any party. They will come to us,” he had said.
At his native Chautala village, workers of the INLD and JJP often initiate discussions on “what if the family was together”. “We have kept our fingers crossed, no idea as to who will get a clear majority. I wish INLD had stayed as one unit,” says a man at the village.
In Haansi constituency, however, the discussions are about a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress. Naresh Kumar, enjoying bread pakora and tea at Baiji ka Dhabha on GT Road, says, “In urban areas, the fight is between BJP and Congress. Too many choices have made voters think about the mainstream parties rather than focusing on the regional parties and their branches and offshoots”.
Ompati, a resident of Jitpura village in Bhadra, adds, “Our kids are unemployed even after securing degrees. We need jobs as it is causing anarchy in the society”.
There’s no end to the debates. At a road side dhabha on Hisar road, one Hari Singh is passionately discussing the elections. “It is election season and hence we must discuss about the polls and the results. Even the TV channels are doing the same,” he adds.