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Monday 19 December 2011

Ganna dwarfs Anna in farms

Ganna dwarfs Anna in farms

Bareilly, Dec. 17: Farmers in western Uttar Pradesh seem to have ganna and not Anna on their minds.
Ahead of the Assembly polls, the priority issues voters have been identifying in this belt are power shortage, the fleecing over fertilisers, surplus paddy and the price of sugarcane (ganna).
The perennial problem of crime too remains a prime concern. Although corruption is also a big issue, hardly anyone blames it on the absence of a tough law or ombudsman. What they see before their eyes is brazen loot, which has more to do with the political culture and administrative failure.
The sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh is angry with the Mayawati government despite a hike of Rs 45 per quintal in the state advisory price. The farmers feel the decision has come too late and that the administration is incapable of enforcing the new rates.
Although a quintal of sugarcane is now supposed to fetch Rs 240, farmers complain of under-pricing by the mills and delay in payments.
A few farmers in a village in Sambhal told The Telegraph that the mills make them wait for two or three days with their produce, which raises the transport cost as the tractor owners charge them for overnight stay.
This either forces the farmers to undervalue their stuff or sell it off at the fields to middlemen at Rs 190 per quintal. Ask them about Anna and they shrug and return to their pet subject, ganna.
Fertilisers appear to be an even bigger issue. Farmers from Badayun to Shahjahanpur complain that bags priced at Rs 550 are selling at Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500. While the BJP blames the Centre’s faulty policies, state Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi has alleged a fertiliser scam involving state officials.
Paddy farmers aren’t happy, either. Many farmers in Bareilly division complained of surplus paddy and poor procurement — less than 10 per cent of the target — by the state government.
A bumper potato crop has deepened the farmers’ woes and given Rahul Gandhi an opportunity to explain to villagers in Farrukhabad how foreign direct investment in retail would have helped them.
At Tilhar in Shahjahanpur, a group of youths alleged rampant corruption in the government and said they would vote for the Congress in the hope of a better system.
Reminded of Hazare’s tussle with the Congress-led government at the Centre, they said it would be foolish to support the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or the Samajwadi Party just in case the Congress did not create a strong Lokpal.
Asked if they had watched Hazare’s campaign at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan, they said they received electricity alternately in the daytime or night every week, and that they were too busy to stay glued to the TV anyway.
In most villages, people complain they get power for less than five hours a day. In Badayun, some traders did say that Hazare was doing a good job but added that their biggest worry was “goondagardi” (violence) and “extortion” by BSP bullies, which they said mirrored what Samajwadi musclemen used to do five years ago.
Asked if they might listen to Hazare and vote against the Congress on the question of Lokpal, hardly anyone was willing to take the question seriously. In several villages, the poor claimed they hadn’t heard of Hazare. Any mention of Arvind Kejriwal merely drew blank stares.

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