Siddharthnagar (Uttar Pradesh): Dumariaganj Lok Sabha constituency holds an important place in the politics of Purvanchal, which comprises of eastern Uttar Pradesh and western part of Bihar. Despite being so important politically, the area close to India-Nepal border is extremely backward, both economically and socially.
Both the Basti and Gorakhpur divisions which fall under this constituency are extremely backward in terms of education. Women’s literacy rate is miserable here, while a lack of industries mean that employment opportunities are almost zero in the region. Rapti and its tributaries bring sorrow for the people almost every year as they lose their crops and properties in the devastating floods. During floods, the administration lack of a proper plan to control it and lessen the loss always comes to the fore.
But these issues are missing from the election campaign this year. Victory claims are made on the basis of caste arithmetic.
Dumariaganj was once considered to be the seat of Congress stalwart Qazi Jalil Abbasi, who was a freedom fighter. However, caste has emerged as a crucial factor in the constituency in the recent time, which has a dominance of Muslim population. Mohsina Kidwai of Congress and senior journalist Seema Mustafa have also fought elections from here.
Once a part of Basti district, Dumariaganj is now a tehsil of Siddharthnagar district. Mahatma Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini (Kapilavastu) is just 80 kms from here. The area is famous for its ‘Kala Namak’ rice. Rich in iron and zinc, the rice has been described as ‘specialty rice of world’ in a book published by the food and agriculture related organisation of the United Nations.
Also Read: Elections 2019: Likely BJP Rout in 6th Phase, Gathbandhan Far Ahead Overall
Despite all this, the MPs (from Mohsina Kidwai to Jagdambika Pal) who represented the constituency in Parliament, have failed to bring any development to the area.
The villagers from several villages in this region complained that neither their MP nor MLA bother to visit them or listen to their sufferings.
Agrarian Problems Remain Unaddressed
“Two rivers – Koora and Gonghi – that originate from Nepal flows through the Naugarh Assembly constituency of the district. Every year, the river brings huge floods in majority of the villages that destroys our paddy crops. After last year’s flood, we are yet to get compensation,” said Ranjit Sahni – a resident of Udaipur village in Siddhartha Nagar.
Fed up with the political rhetoric, the voters here had earlier decided to boycott the polls on May 12. But later they changed their decision and are now determined to teach a lesson to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which had come to power on development plank.
“The MP (Jagdambika Pal) did not visit us in the past 10 years. Two years have passed, our MLA too did not come to visit his constituency. You can see the conditions of roads. There are no potholes on the roads, but roads are in potholes. Live wire supplying high voltage current fell down on April 16 in our fields. It caused huge damage to crops, which turned to ashes. But the compensation we got was too meagre (Rs 3,000/3 bigha). It was nothing more than a joke to us,” said Soman Prasad from Parsauna village, complaining that his village was electrified in 1990 and the wires have not been changed since then.
Alleging that the government does not care for the farmers, Shyam Badan Vishwakarma said, “The government announced that the farmers would get compensation for loss of crops post the 2018 floods at the rate of Rs 4,000/acre. We got the first instalment of the total amount to each farmer. But after that there is no trace of the rest sum.”
Also Read: Elections 2019: No 'Acche Din' Yet For UP's Small Farmers
When asked about the Minimum Support Price and whether cooperative societies buy their crops, he said, “The government buys wheat and paddy from farmers on the MSP (minimum support price) for name sake. Big farmers who own 30-40 acres of land are given preference in purchasing. When the turn of small farmers like us comes, the cooperative societies decline to buy our farm produce arguing that they are running short of bags and therefore, they can not buy our crops. Left with no option, we have to sell it to the market where we get lower rates.”
The cooperative society buys wheat and paddy according to the total jute number of bags it has. It buys wheat at Rs 1,870/quintal and paddy at Rs 1,745/quintal. However, the market rate of wheat is Rs 1,580/quintal and paddy is Rs 1,450/quintal. If the farmers sell crops on credit, they get a slightly higher price.
Others complained of the lack of irrigation facilities. One of the villagers said, “There is no proper arrangement for irrigation. Tube well operators don’t have any schedule. All pipelines are outdated. Everything has collapsed here. It is an anti-farmer government. Chief Minister Yogi, PM Modi and our MLA don’t have their families and children. They cannot understand the problem we face. They don’t know how we will feed our children and run families if the crop fails.”
Anand Singh from Sahila-Bhagta village raised the issue of healthcare facilities. “There is a primary health centre in our village, which has a population of around 4,000 people. This health centre has no doctor and no medicine. One Auxiliary Nurse Midwifery (ANM) comes occasionally. She is overburdened with meetings and paper works. If someone falls ill, we have to take him or her to Naugarh, which is far from here and roads are in pathetic condition,” he said.
Several students expressed their wish to join the security and defence forces, but the lack of infrastructure for physical preparation act as a roadblock.
Also Read: Elections 2019: Raging Joblessness Dents BJP’s Chances In UP
They also question the government about the ‘vikas’ (development) they were promised time and again. “We have nothing against any individual. We are just asking the government where is the ‘vikas’ they had promised. We are young, we need jobs. We apply for jobs but the vacancies in majority of the cases stand cancelled. On an average, Rs 500 is spent on one application. We are children of farmers. From where will we manage to spend so much of money on applying?” asked Jivendra Singh, who has a diploma in engineering in mechanical production.
He was echoed by Adarsh Singh who said there has been no vacancy of government jobs in the past five years.
BJP’s Jagdambika Pal had registered an impressive victory by securing 2,98,845 votes in the last elections. He had defeated Mohammad Muqeem of the Bahujan Samaj Party by 1,03,588 votes. Samajwadi Party’s Mata Prasad Pandey had secured third position, bagging 1,74,778 votes. Congress was at fifth position, while Peace Party’s Dr Mohammad Ayyub was at fourth position.
The BJP has once again trusted Pal, while the Congress has fielded Dr Chandresh Upadhyay. Aftab Alam is very strongly fighting this election as the Gathbandhan candidate on a BSP ticket. A doctor by profession, Dr Upadhyay was in the BJP for a long time. He switched sides after he was denied ticket by the saffron party.
The Dumariaganj Lok Sabha seat comprises of five Assembly constituencies: Dumariaganj, Shohratgarh, Kapilvastu, Bansi and Itwa. All these five seats are with the BJP.
Brij Bhushan Tiwari of the Janata Dal was elected from here in 1989. In 1991, Rampal Singh of the BJP won the seat as a result of the sharp split of votes between Mohsina Kidwai and Seema Mustafa. After that, the BJP has ruled the constituency.
Read More: Elections 2019: Deterioration of Healthcare Infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh