The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has long been carrying the tag of the party of the 'upper castes', and has enjoyed patronage of the Rajput community. However, in Western Uttar Pradesh, just three days before the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections, Rajputs have shown their willingness to shift their allegiance if any of the other parties promise to resolve their issues – mainly regarding the sugarcane arrears.
The Rajput community from the Naujal village in the Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh is upset with the Yogi Adityanath-led government in the state. The BJP government has failed in waiving the farm loans, and in helping them recover their dues from the sugar mill owners.
Speaking to Newsclick, a farmer, Anu Rana, told Newsclick, “BJP has a single agenda to push, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls – the Hindus vs Muslims issue. They say Hindu is in danger, but to be very honest, neither Hindus nor Muslims are in danger. If someone is in danger, it is the farmers under the BJP rule. Eighty per cent of the Rajput community will vote for Gathbandhan this time.”
He added, “Payment of the sugarcane arrears and destruction of crops by the stray cattle are two major issues in front of us. During the 2017 UP Assembly elections, BJP had promised us that the payment will be cleared within 14 days. What happened to that promise? Last year, we got our payment after 9-10 months, and we paid our interest of the Kisan credit card with that money. Because if we do not pay, the bank will send a notice to us, and we will be sent to the jail.”
According to The Hindu Business Line report, sugarcane arrears in Uttar Pradesh, based on the state advisory price, are about Rs 12,549.61 crore for 2018-19. Arrears pending for 2017-18 and 2016-17 are Rs 238.81 crore and Rs 22.29 crore, respectively. Together, the amount comes to Rs 12,810.71 crore.
Sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh have bought cane worth Rs 24,888.65 crore in the present crushing season and the average rate per quintal of sugarcane given to farmers is Rs 320 per quintal.
“The electricity bill is too high in the village. We pay around Rs 21,000 for a mill and 4-5 houses. How will we be able to pay such a huge amount when we are not being paid? We do not have enough money for the fertilisers, nor for the children’s school fees,” Singh added.
Speaking about the cattle menace, Sumit Singh, another farmer from the village, said, “Our both the crops – wheat and sugarcane – are destroyed by the stray cattle. The situation is very pathetic. We have named these stray cattle Modi and Yogi. Under [PM] Modi and [CM] Yogi Adityanath, the BJP has become the party of jumlas (hollow promises).”
Recently, the Yogi government had promised construction of cow shelters to solve the cattle menace, but there has been no development on this front so far.
Meanwhile, the polling for eight seats of the region in the first phase is on Thursday, and for another eight seats on April 18. The BJP is confident of its support base of upper castes, particularly the Rajputs and Gujjars. However, it seems like the sugarcane belt has decided to vote the BJP out.
Also read: Elections 2019: No 'Acche Din' Yet For UP's Small Farmers