Rae Bareli/Amethi: The 2G spectrum, CWG scams and the Anna Hazare movement may be burning issues at the national level, but it is bad roads, rampant power-cuts
and acute shortage of fertilisers that are the main poll issues in these twin pocket-boroughs of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
The Vidhan Sabha constituencies falling under Rae Bareli
and Amethi bear the look of any other non-descript semi-urban
seat with hardly anything that would make them stand out from
the other constituencies of Uttar Pradesh.
Election issues here are as local as they can get.
Matters like 2G spectrum, CWG scam, Lokpal agitation,
Ramdev's agitation and other national issues may crop up
during discussions among locals, but it appears to have little
bearing on the polls as people grapple to make ends meet.
But the locals do not hold local MPs -- Congress
Chairperson Sonia Gandhi or party general secretary Rahul --
responsible for the problems.
Most of the locals feel the Mayawati-led state government
is meting out step-motherly treatment to these constituencies
and not passing on the Central funds.
They, however, indicate that Sonia and Rahul may get
their votes, but not all Congress candidates in the 10 Vidhan
Sabha seats are likely to win as local factors are more
"We get electricity only from 11 pm to 7 am here. For the
rest of the time you are lucky if there is power," said a
tea-shop owner in Tiloi area of Amethi.
Others rue that they have to run around and shell out
money for water to irrigate their fields. One farmer said his
efforts came to a naught as after much effort he got water for
his fields, but it rained the next day during this summer.
Most locals in the rural hinterland are unhappy with
the shortage of fertiliser. As demand exceeds the supply, the
prices have also shot up.
"There is corruption everywhere. We have to pay for
getting ration cards, death and birth certificates or any
other official document. The government servants think if you
are getting a death certificate made it must be for some gain.
Policemen harass us on small pretexts to charge money," said
Chhatrapal Singh, a resident of Amethi.
Yet Hazare and his crusade against corruption is only a
blip here and people say their affiliation to the candidate
will determine their vote.
Some voters do talk about Hazare and his fight against
graft, but they feel it will have virtually no impact on the
poll outcome in any of the seats here.
Both Rae Bareli and Amethi (which is now a district) lack
basic amenities. A visit to the two districts and a look at
the infrastructure does not give one the impression that these
are "VIP constituencies".
Most roads are in a bad shape here. Even the Rae Bareli-
Sultanpur state highway -- on which the Fursatganj Udaan
academy, the flying school for pilots is located -- has a 10
km stretch of pot-holed road.
"This may be a VIP constituency but what have we got. We
vote for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul out of respect for the Gandhi
family, but people are not likely to vote for the Congress
candidate in all the 10 constituencies of Rae Bareli and
Amethi," said Rameshwar Sharma, who works as an accountant
at a brick kiln.
Congress loyalists maintain that though a lot of money
was sent by the Central government to Uttar Pradesh, it has
not reached Rae Bareli, Amethi and other parts of the state as
the Mayawati-led BSP government has blocked the funds.
"Mayawati has allowed development of infrastructure like
good roads and highways in other parts of the state but
deliberately put a check on development work in these two
constituencies," said paan shop owner, aged around 55 years,
who did not want to be named.
At the end of all the ranting about the state of affairs,
every voter indicated that since none of the candidates appear
to be serious about delivering on their promises and are far
from perfect, caste and the connect with a candidate may
decide his fate.