Raebareli: Victim of Tug of war

Despite being a constituency represented by the likes of Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi , Rae Bareli still longs for economic progress. BeyondHeadlines’ Ratnendra K. Pandey travels to the town in Eastern U.P and finds out that in the midst of a political blame game between the state and the centre it is ultimately development that has always been the victim.

Raebareli: This might not be a city of dreams but people here have dreams in their eyes. Raebareli, a district in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, is known for its political lineage. Despite being a political base for the likes of Feroze Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and now Sonia Gandhi, Rai bareli never gained anything substantial in terms of economic prospects.

In Rae Bareli, about two dozen factories were constructed in the last 4 decades but only few are functioning now. The state of these factories is also lamentable.

UPA Chariperson and Raebareli MP Sonia Gandhi with villagers in the district (Courtesy: The Hindu/PTI)

Samajwadi Party General Secretary (city) Ram Sewak Verma says: “The district Congress leader remains engaged in making profit. The voice of locals does not reach its representatives, and after all this, if something positive takes place, the state government keeps interfering.”

Meena, 49, was working in a textile factory for last 3 years. But it has shut down, and she is now struggling to meet her both ends. Meena is a divorcee with two daughters. And she is not the only one. The number of jobless in this small town is in thousands.

Many such factories were established to give employment to the people. But due to unfavorable conditions, most factories came down one by one. The blame game between the central and state governments has become permanent fixture. But it’s the man on street who is suffering the most in this tug of war.

V K Shukla, senior member of state Congress committee says, “Factories that started during the Congress regime, are still running while state government stopped the sugar mill and the Spinning Mill. ITI Factory was stopped during BJP government in 2003 but the factory re-started when Congress came in back to power again at centre.”

Establishment of a Rail coach factory was another bone of contention between the central and the state government. A bill was passed in February 2007 to build a rail coach factory in Lalganj area of city. Just a day before the bhoomi poojan (a ritual to ensure the safety of construction before building) of the land in July 2009, the state government withdrew the permission without citing any justified reason. The State government said that the farmers were opposing construction of the factory and they wanted their land back. Although after a few months the matter was resolved and construction started again. But this delay and the ensuing confusion brought the plight of the city on the fore again.

“Sonia Gandhi is not a grass root politician because she does not understand the basic problems of Raebareli. Their sycophant representatives might not be presenting the real situation of the city.” says Manish Tripathi, treasurer of Bahujan Samaj Party (city).

Despite the so called resolution of the issue, the rail coach factory is still under construction. In the opinion of BSP supporters, central government always talks about Rae Bareli and Amethi in the state. Rest of the state has been ignored by them for the past 8 years.

Shukla, however, denies these charges and still stands firm on his ground.

Locals argue that the ‘tug of war’ between successive central and state governments – especially between BSP and Congress – is the main hurdle in the development of this small city.

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