Farmers of Kushinagar Angry over Prime Minister’s Unfulfilled Promises
In an effort to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the promise he made during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign to the people of Kushinagar that within 100 days of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coming to power, the sugar mills in the region would start functioning, the farmers’ union “reminded” him of his “promise” of reopening the shut sugar mills at Kushinagar, Ramkola and Padrauna.
The farmers of Kushinagar have decided to organise a massive public meeting as even after seven years, there is no sign of any sugar mill opening. Those farmers who had hoped to start sugarcane cultivation, switched to potato and banana farming.
The farmers of Kushinagar are angry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for feeding false hopes and making fake promises. The anger of farmers is so deep rooted. When Modi landed in Kushinagar once again on Wednesday, October 20, this time for the inauguration of the Kushinagar International Airport and launching of key projects, they boycotted this event. They mobilised peasants to not “fall into the trap” of other “jumlas”.
“Kushinagar International Airport is the result of decades of hopes and expectations. The development of Kushinagar is among the priorities of the UP government and the Center government. My happiness increased manifold today, as a representative of Purvanchal, I have fulfilled the promise made to the public,” said the PM while speaking at the inauguration.
PM MODI CHEATED FARMERS?
During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the 2017 Assembly election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which took up the problems of sugarcane farmers as “top priority” seem to have failed to solve their problems even after completing seven years in power.
While campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Narendra Modi had, during an election rally in Padrauna, raised the issue of the closed sugar mills and ensured that the mill would be reopened within 100 days of him being elected.
The BJP won the 2014 elections with a thumping majority, and Narendra Modi was elected prime minister. Then, in the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP again raised the issue of the closed sugar mills. This time again, BJP won the Assembly polls and Yogi Adityanath became the chief minister. But the “promise” made by the Yogi-Modi duo was not fulfilled.
Reminding people of Modi’s promise to double the farmers' income and reopening the closed sugar mills in Kushinagar region, president Bharatiya Kisan Union(BKU) - Ambavata Ramchandra Singh, urged them to ask. BJP leaders “what happened to the promise?"
“PM Modi landed in Kushinagar after almost seven years. He first came during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign and after that he landed today to inaugurate the airport. Where was he for seven years, we don’t know. We know what he had promised to the people of Kushinagar was not fulfilled, even not a basic formalities has been initiated towards opening sugar mill in these years,” Singh told Newsclick, adding that despite knowing that Kushinagar region is the sugarcane dominated belt since independence and majority of farmers are upset with the five sugar mills - Laxmiganj, Ramkola (Khetan), Padrauna, Katkuiya and Chitauni shut over the past 10 years, the Modi-led Center government did nothing to ensure the opening of mills.
“In the last seven years of Modi government tenure, the farmers and common people of Kushinagar region feeling cheated by the government. The farmers don’t trust Modi and his leaders anymore. Opening sugar mill and delay in payment to cane farmers will become a key issue in upcoming Assembly polls. We have decided to teach a lesson to the ruling government then,” Singh claimed further.
Three out of five closed sugar mills — Laxmiganj, Ramkola (Khetan) and Chitauni sugar mills belonged to the Uttar Pradesh State Sugar Corporation and two - Padrauna and Katkuiya sugar mills used to operate by the ministry of textile. All five sugar mills were shut down in 2008, showing losses. While arrears in payments to cane farmers by running Kaptanganj sugar mill is estimated at Rs 40 lakh in the current crushing season.
Ramashray Verma, another prominent farmer of Kushinagar told Newsclick, “Modi in his address today said that farmers will directly get benefits after the opening of Kushinagar airport. Farmers, workers, shopkeepers, and youth will also get benefits, but he did not explain how. When the government is hellbent to sell all the assets to the private players, how will we get benefits rather than witnessing exploitation,” he alleged.
He went on to add, “Once Kushinagar used to be the hub of sugar mills but due to the failure of previous and current government, it has been destroyed and farmers are living in vulnerable condition. Furthermore. Due to closure of sugar mills and government apathy. nearly four-five lakh farmers of Kushinagar district either started other cultivation such as banana, potato, turmeric and so on".
Singh and other farmers Newsclick spoken with said that farmers had cast their votes for BJP hoping for a government that would not make false promises but “we have been cheated.”
Meanwhile, farmers unions including BKU (Ambavata) and BKU (Bhanu) have been raising the issue to reopen the mills for the several years but the government did not pay heed towards their plight. Both the unions held indefinite strike for a year but were in vain.
“We have been continuously raising the plight of cane farmers since 2014 Lok Sabha and even 2017 Assembly polls, the both State and Center government has failed to address farmers and resolve the issue despite being in the power. The situation of sugarcane growers however, became worst in these years,” Chandrabhan Singh, a farmer told Newsclick.
Newsclick had travelled to Kushinagar during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and found closed sugar mills made the poll battle bitter in the region. Five out of ten sugar mills have shut down, leaving farmers in the lurch and thousands unemployed. Even the ones that are ‘working’ are not buying cane or paying on time.
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