BJP faces wrath from traders and in rural areas

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan along with his wife Sadhna Singh and son Kunal Singh Chouhan enjoys snacks during a visit to Indian Coffee House in Bhopal on Tuesday. PTI

It is 3:00 pm on a November afternoon and Om Prakash Bansal, a 68-year-old wholesale trader in Gwalior's spices market, is yet to strike a cash deal.

"When a person's business is hurt, what do you expect?" Bansal said, showing this reporter the empty cash register.

Bansal and his 42-year-old son Manoj hold BJP government's twin decisions of demonetisation and GST responsible for the slump in business and are rooting for 'badlav' (change).

In the neighbouring shop, 42-year-old Raghevendra Singhal, a FMCG trader, is angry over the Modi government's decision to demonetise high-value currency and follow it up with the implementation of GST.

"When you did notebandi, GST should at least have been delayed. And above that, now BJP leaders are calling us 'chor' (thief)," Singhal said.

"We have voted for the BJP since we got our voting rights. Not any more. Now, it will be a vote for change," said Pankaj Agarwal, 40, who runs a general store in the Inderganj Chauraha market.

At Nayabazar nearby, Murli Manohar is busy returning stocks of sarees which have piled up due to low sales.

"November and April are the biggest sales months, but now I am busy returning stocks. In the days before note-ban, I would not have been talking to you at this time. There was such rush. Badlav hona chahiye (There has to be change)," Manohar said.

In Gwalior city, the BJP had won four of the six Assembly seats in 2013, as the Congress managed to win two. This year, the results may be exactly the reverse, said Agarwal, who is also upset at the strident pro-reservation stand taken by the BJP.

About 225 km away, in Tikamgarh, 38-year-old Shakeel Khan drives an auto to earn a living. Khan is a graduate and had hoped to find a job. "There are no jobs in Bundelkhand. No industry. The only other option is to migrate to another city," Khan told DH.

Hariram Prajapati, 65, is busy peeling off a root vegetable in the courtyard of his homestead in the Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary. Prajapati, a potter, appears untouched by the talk of development preached by political parties.

"Jagah hi nahi dekhi kahan se yeh milta hai (I have not seen the place where you get this)," Prajapati said when asked about government schemes such as Ujjwala, which provides cooking gas for the poor. He said he has not made up his mind on whether to vote all.

In the Bijawar constituency of Bundelkhand, Bhupen Sharma runs a roadside dhaba. He complained of petty corruption in the Madhya Pradesh government.

"I got three toilets constructed in the Swacch Bharat initiative, but local officials are demanding a bribe to clear the amount due to me," Sharma said, adding that he has refused to claim the money due to him.

Despite the shortcomings in the BJP government, Sharma still remains a steadfast supporter of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "We need strong leaders like them," he said.

The Bundelkhand region in Madhya Pradesh covers six districts — Sagar, Chhatarpur, Damoh, Tikamgarh, Panna and Niwari. The region has 26 Assembly seats with BJP dominating the region, holding 20 seats. The Congress has legislators on the remaining six seats.

Elections for the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly are due on Wednesday.

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