Real issues relegated to back burner in UP polls

Parties focus solely on caste equations to garner votes

Although the polling for the first phase of the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh is barely days away, the real issues confronting the people of India’s biggest state are yet to make their way onto the agenda of major stake holders.

Political outfits have paid more attention to the caste and communal equation, while allegations and counter-allegations fly through the air.

For a state, which contributes 8.34 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), this scenario is a recurring feature, as a result, the state continues to lag behind in terms of economic progress and prosperity.

When the elections were announced, one would have believed that the issues affecting common people like farmers’ suicides, lack of infrastructure, acute power shortage, recurring floods, poor condition of roads, the sorry state of health services and deaths of hundreds of children from encephalitis in the eastern region would overshadow all other issues, prompting the electorate to cast their votes based on the issue of development.

There is no hint in the spe­eches by party leaders that development issues are the poll planks and that they will seek votes in the name of development.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who refers to development in his speeches, also never forgets to encash on caste and other non-development factors, wherever possible.

Similarly Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akh­ilesh, the party’s star campaigner, pay more attention to criticizing UP CM Mayawati and countering Congress’ attempt to woo the Muslims.

Fighting ‘anti-incumbency’ and cornered by scams and criminal cases against her cabinet colleagues, Mayawati has been focusing more on weaving the caste equation and her party members and leaders have not been vocal on the achievements of their regime, if any.

Even the BJP, which claims to be different, has fallen pray to the temptation of electoral victory at any cost. It brought in tainted Babu Singh Kushwaha to garner his community’s votes though it faced flak from its own leaders.

Even in areas where common people have been directly affected by these problems, the politicians have refrained from bring them up, fearing the wrath of the people. No one talks of encephalitis in Gorakhpur. While Rahul did refer to it, he used it to blame the state government for the deaths of hundreds of children in the region.

Bhola Nath Tewari, a retired gov­e­rnment employee said, “The people are also responsible for this. If they do not vote along caste lines and vote for developmental issues, the politicians will immediately start paying attention .”

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