Many villagers have not even seen their local MLAs

False hopes and false promises make up for the performance of people's representatives in Banda district in the backward Bundelkhand region.

Elections in the five constituencies of Banda district and two in Chitrakoot will be held in the fourth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on February 19.

“Time has come to boycott the elections,” Yashwant of Paprenda in the Tindwari constituency in Banda, said irked at the lack of basic facilities in the village, which has a voter strength of about 5,500.

Given that Bundelkhand has borne the brunt of drought in the past several years, irrigation facilities have come to a standstill. Private borewells function on average for four months a year, from November to February, and as summer sets in, water availability becomes minimal. Inflated power bills are another headache to the villagers.

Many voters in villages of Tindwari, represented by Bishambhar Prasad Nishad of the Samajwadi Party, say they have not even seen him.

That development in these parts has come to a standstill is also evident from the condition of roads in the two districts. About 18 km of road on the Banda-Mahoba highway is completely broken; similar is the state of a 20-km stretch from Banda to Atarra en route to Karvi and Chitrakoot.

Banda and Chitrakoot are the home districts of Public Works Department and Irrigation Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui (he held 18 portfolios and was number two, next only to Chief Minister Mayawati) and the former Family Welfare Minister, Babu Singh Kushwaha, whom she sacked for his alleged involvement in the National Rural Health Mission scam; and Rural Development Minister Daddu Prasad, who has been denied ticket in the ongoing elections.

Incidentally, a 4-km approach road from Girwa to Mr. Siddiqui's village, Sewrha in the Naraini constituency, is easily the best road in the entire Banda district. The metalled road ends at Sewhra, which, barring the palatial bungalow the PWD Minister built for himself, was typical of a backward Bundelkhand village with thatched huts. .

Beyond this metalled road is a ‘kutcha' road which led to Sewrha Ghat bridge built over river Ken, at a short distance from where the sand and stone laden trucks enter neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.

Migration

The region has seen migration of people, particularly youth, to other States in search of livelihood. “People have been migrating to Haryana, Punjab and Delhi in search of employment as jobs are scarce and agricultural activity has ceased to provide the villagers with enough to last throughout the year,” said Panch Ram Yadav of Pindhari village.

The condition of the Kol tribals in the Patha area (once synonymous with the dreaded brigand, Shiv Kumar alias Dadua) of Manikpur Assembly constituency in Chitrakoot district is even more pathetic. Ram Kesh, a Kol, earned a measily Rs. 35 to Rs. 40 per day working as a labourer loading and unloading stones from trucks. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) Scheme was a source of assured employment to the villagers, but the Kol tribals complained that job cards were not delivered to them on time by the village pradhans. It was found that only 26 villagers in Semauni village panchayat in Baberu Assembly constituency in Banda district were provided with more than 100 days employment under MNREGS in 2011-2012.

The sorry state of the villagers has not stopped the candidates from promising them ‘bijli' (electricity), ‘paani' (water) and ‘sarhak' (road).

Sampat Devi Pal, the leader of Gulabi Gang and the Congress candidate from Manikpur, said, “there are enough Central funds to make these facilities available to the people.”

Even, Veer Singh Patel, the son of Dadua and Samajwadi Party candidate from Karvi in Chitrakoot chanted the development ‘mantra.'

Keywords: U.P. elections

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