Voterspeak: The Government failed in UP on every front barring communal polarisation

In UP, between 2016-2021 working age population rose from 146.9 million to 169.2 million and number of people with jobs fell from 56.4 million to 55.8 million. The Govt’s focus was on grand projects

Voterspeak: The Government failed in UP on every front barring communal polarisation

Mohammad Alim Khan

I was lucky to have grown up in a small village in Malihabad. We were surrounded by greenery, forest cover, fresh air and the kindest and most helpful people around, who were always united. But it had its flip side.

Ever since I was a child, I would have to travel 20-25 km to Lucknow just to secure a decent education. If someone fell ill, the nearest hospital was also in Lucknow. If someone had a heart attack, by the time he was taken to Lucknow, there never was any guarantee that he would survive. Till recently even to get an X-ray or dengue test done, we had to go to Lucknow. For everything small or big related to healthcare, education, transport, livelihood, we look to the state capital. Why was rural India left out, I sometimes wonder.

Over the past five years, I have been witness to corruption increasing exponentially in the courts. Today, if I know my client is innocent and I have the evidence to prove his innocence, even then I’d have to bribe the judges and pay Rs. 30,000-35,000 to ensure that the decision is in my favour. For those who are neither innocent or those who cannot prove their innocence, these judges would take anywhere between Rs. 1,00,000-2,00,000.

Ab to poora desh Modi ji mein simatke reh gaya hai. I remember BJP legislator Kaushal Kishore uploading three videos on social media complaining that the inspector of the Malihabad thana was not listening to him. If this is the plight of an elected leader, the less said about us ordinary mortals the better.

The pandemic was devastating. Most lawyers also depend on fees that they collect from clients. But with clients missing, the income of lawyers went down significantly. Lawyers boycotted courts, went on strike, asked for stipends for at least young lawyers who are new in the profession. But nothing has moved.

The pandemic also left many without any food on their table. Those who owned mango orchards also suffered huge losses. They couldn’t take the mangoes to the mandi. With interstate and international travel shutting down, they were left with the crop with nowhere to go.

Businesses also suffered. Last year, my ice-cream factory ran into huge losses because the second wave hit during summer, the peak season. After the lockdown was lifted, permission was given to operate only at half capacity. Vendors feared going into the villages to sell ice cream because police officials would stop them.

The government did nothing for anyone. During Manmohan Singh’s tenure, so many people I know got employment. None under this government. Covid only made matters worse.

The government blindly promoted ‘Digital India’ without giving it adequate thought and without realising its effect on the ground. Earlier, people used to go to shops to recharge their phones and pay electricity bills.

There would be lines for all of these things and people would be employed. Ever since PayTM came, people have been doing these payments online. Earlier, if there were 3 or 4 people employed to handle the counters at the electricity office, the number has now been reduced to one.

Under Akhilesh, Malihabad finally got 24x7 power supply. Muslims and Yadavs of Malihabad were always supportive of the Samajwadi Party. But when Modi came, all Hindus got together and decided to support Modiwaad over Yadav-waad. Five years later, they’ve come to realise that food, education and employment are what we need, none of which was provided under this government.

But, to be fair, people here do not care about religion or caste. They have bigger things to worry about. It’s not that people are not communal. But people here do not show it because Muslims are in a majority in Malihabad.

Even now Hindu families here take their newborns to the dargah. We have grown up in the GangaJamuni tehzeeb. We have not learnt to divide people. Aap dharam ke aage badh nahi rahe hain. Ek nahi 200 Ram Mandir bana lo bhaiya, rozgaar toh do.

In the next five years, I do not want to see big changes in Uttar Pradesh. Small reliefs will be fine. Reduce prices of gas cylinders, electricity, give people employment and please, stop thinking of caste and religion for once.

(M.A. Khan is an advocate in Malihabad.)

(As told to Garima Sadhwani)

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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