Hit by note ban, Bundelkhand's sons come home to more misery -AM Jigeesh

-The Hindu Business Line

They rue voting for BJP in the 2014 LS polls, and swear by Mayawati’s BSP now

Jalaun (Uttar Pradesh):
The reverse migration triggered by demonetisation has possibly reversed the BJP’s political fortunes in this backward and poverty-stricken region of Bundelkhand.

Coupled with agrarian distress, demonetisation-induced reverse migration is pushing voters away from the BJP in the ongoing elections. While the SP-Congress alliance is the frontrunner for upper caste voters, who voted for BJP in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the BSP seems to be the favourite of agriculture workers and migrant workers who have returned to their village post-demonetisation.

Take Urai, a small town in Jalaun district that is infamous for farmer suicides and recurrent drought. Youth from this village would flock to Guajrat’s Jamnagar for work. A sizeable number returned home after demonetisation: Satyender Kumar, a security guard at a Jamnagar factory, and Girendra Singh and his family, have come back. So has Manavenda Singh.

Kumar now works as a technician in Urai. He has also joined the BSP and says he is working earnestly for the party’s victory.

“Only Mayawati can ensure social and economic security for us. Ten per cent of people in our village were in Gujarat. Half of them have now returned to find that there is no job and no food here. Severe droughts, floods and hailstorm have made farming difficult. Even the MGNREGS is not working for the last three months,” he says.

Kumar says he voted for the BJP in 2014 and has been repenting it.

Ram Singh Nanna, an 89-year-old farmer, was a BJP supporter. Nanna claims some of his relatives have come back from Faridabad and Mumbai due to demonetisation.

“We have land. But agriculture is not viable. People have migrated in search of jobs. Now demonetisation is sending them back to the villages,” Nanna says, adding that the SP-Congress alliance is getting the people’s support due to demonetisation. Babbu Singh, who was a worker at a gas cylinder factory in Faridabad, agrees with Nanna. “I worked in Faridabad for 10 years. For the last two months, I have no job. How will I live without cash?” Singh asks.

Eshwar Prasad is a small-time trader-cum-farmer in the Sirsa Kalar village in Jalaun. The weekly village market, helped Prasad sell his produce and that of his neighbours. He used to make a living out of it. But in the last two months, he sells a kilogram of tomato for just one rupee.

“Three months ago, the price was Rs. 20 a kilo,” he says. It is not just tomatoes, but the prices of green peas and potatoes that have seen a huge fall after demonetisation, Prasad adds. He is thinking of migrating somewhere else but the plight of the others who have had to return is making even that option less attractive.

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The Hindu Business Line, 16 February, 2017, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/hit-by-note-ban-bundelkhands-sons-come-home-to-more-misery/article9547353.ece?homepage=true

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