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UP Elections: People Want Change in Western UP

Mahesh Kumar |
The discontent among the people against BJP stems from the rising unemployment, inflation and the government's inability to pay the dues of sugarcane farmers in time.
western UP

Mohmand Ilyas, a resident of Kilana village under Sewalkhas Assembly constituency, said, "All sections of the society, Hindu or Muslim, have decided to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and vote for the alliance between Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)."

When NewsClick asked about the reasons or issues that have caused anger among the people of western Uttar Pradesh (UP) against the BJP, he explained, "Every section of the society is very upset with the Yogi Adityanath government- be it farmers or workers."

Ilyas further added, "People do not have employment. Compared to earlier, the daily wage has decreased, and the farmer is not getting a suitable price for the crop. On top of that, the Yogi government has not even given the payment of sugarcane to the farmers. The government paid till April 2021- that too, when the elections approached."

"How can one live in such harsh conditions? The situation is so bad that the village people have to buy fuel or cow dung cakes for cooking because the LPG cylinders distributed by the Modi government are of no avail as LPG gas prices have increased manifold. Therefore, the miseries of common people are huge, with no relief in sight."

"Though the discontent among the common people was already rising, the farmer's movement against the three agricultural laws has increased it. It is now spreading in the entire state. The effect is visible, and people are turning towards the alliance."

When asked whether the Asaduddin Owaisi's party, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), would divide the Muslim vote, Ilyas said that 90% of the community vote would go to the alliance, and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) would receive the rest.

72-year-old Phool Singh, a resident of Daurala, said, "This time people have decided to vote for coalition government because people are very unhappy with the Yogi government."

Daurala comes under the Sardana Legislative Assembly and has a population of 19,776. It is a Nagar Panchayat and is known for Daurala Sugar Mills.

"There is a big problem of youth unemployment. Workers do not have work as the brick kilns are mostly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the reason why every section of the society is preparing to vote against the Yogi government so people can get some relief from the new regime."

On the condition of anonymity, a brick kiln worker said, "There is no work in brick kilns in UP due to COVID. On top of that, a worker in UP gets only Rs 550 for making 1,000 bricks, whereas a labourer gets Rs 805 for the same work in Punjab."

"There is a lot of exploitation of labourers in UP. This is further escalated by the lack of unions to represent workers' issues. The local kiln owners are influential and politically linked with ruling parties. Therefore, the workers have to bear the brunt of this and work on low wages. There is no work in the fields on free days. Even in the season, only one or two months' work is available, and after working hard for the whole day, the male worker gets only Rs 400, and the female worker gets just Rs 220. It is impossible to run the family expenses with such a low income. As a result, many agricultural or kiln labourers remain in heavy debt. Hence, we will vote for the winning option."

When asked which party dalits will turn to, he said, "Dalit votes will be divided between SP-RLD alliance and BSP. However, the emphasis is on the coalition, and the majority vote will go towards it."

When a group of Muslim youths from Baraut Vidhan Sabha were asked about the country's political situation regarding elections, they also said on the condition of anonymity that the entire vote of Muslims would go to the SP-RLD alliance.

"We have decided but can't vouch for others. But there is an expectation that people will vote for the SP-RLD alliance."

Naresh Kumar, a resident of Loni, said that there would be a close contest between the BJP and the SP-RLD alliance in the Loni Assembly seat.

When NewsClick was visiting Baraut Vidhan Sabha, BSP candidate Ankit Sharma's campaign was going on. Ankur Munkhia, in charge of Sharma's election campaign, said, "BSP has just started campaigning, and our candidate has received huge support in the area."

When asked whether the SP-RLD alliance is strong, he emphasised that the BSP voter is quiet and will vote for the party handsomely.

While addressing a small election meeting, Sharma said that BSP would win 200 Assembly seats across the state. "The farmers and labourers of the state are with the BSP because they saw that the government of Behen Mayawati had increased the price of sugarcane crops and paid the farmers' dues on time. But the Yogi government has not even paid last year's dues till now."

The voting in western UP would start with the first phase of elections in the state, scheduled to be held on February 10. Hence, all major parties and their respective alliances are campaigning full force in the region. A few days ago, BJP leader and Union Home minister Amit Shah started his election campaign from the Kairana Assembly seat of western UP. It remains to be seen how things would unfold in western UP, a politically-important region and stronghold of the peasant movements. From the general perception and discussion, it seems that people want change.

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