The Times Of India
Binay Singh

While the fate of the contestants of UP assembly election in the eastern UP has been sealed in the electronic voting machines for the first three phases, the fate of voters would depend on the result of the elections. But, most are skeptical about the winning candidates bringing any positive change.

"Aam adami ke bhagya ke bare mein kya baat karte hain, sabhi janate hain ki sirf unka bhagya balata hai jo chunav jitate hain (Don't talk about common man's fate, everyone knows that only the fate of winning leaders changes)," is the instant reply that comes from an elderly person in Azamgarh district during the coverage of assembly election in the region. According to him, there is nothing much to rejoice or to expect as ordinary people like him have been facing hardships for a long time. "We can just hope for slight improvement, nothing more," he said.

His reaction clearly indicates the increasing wealth of politicians and public representatives. The report of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Uttar Pradesh Election Watch (UPEW) also suggested that the average asset growth of the re-contesting MLAs in the third phase of UP assembly election was Rs 4,41,62,607. The average percentage growth in assets for those MLA was 310%. There were 35 such re-contesting MLAs in the third phase of election. The average asset of those MLAs as declared in 2007 was Rs 1,42,63,643 while the figure became Rs 5,84,26,250 in 2012.

Besides poverty the region also has poor infrastructure and civic amenities. The roads in most parts of the districts including Deoria, Azamgarh, Ballia, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Sant Ravidas Nagar (Bhadohi), Sonbhadra and Varanasi are in poor state. The frequent and long power cuts make for a major problem in most of these parts. The industry, particularly the small and cottage, is in a shambles.

"We are accustomed to our hardship. Please ask the 'neta' (leaders) to spend a day in actually understanding our problems," said a farmer Ramjeevan of Jaunpur district. A journey on the road connecting Jaunpur to Bhadohi proves to be a nightmare. Similar is the condition of roads connecting Ghosi to Ballia and Azamgarh to Deoria. The Sonbhadra district, which generates power and revenue, has the worst roads in this region.

For a man like Ramjeevan, a native of Jaunpur, the leaders are responsible for the backwardness of eastern UP. The poverty and backwardness of this region is an old issue. For the first time the MP from Ghazipur, Vishwanath Singh Gahmari, had raised the issue of poverty in the eastern region of UP in the Parliament in 1962. The then Prime MinisterJawaharlal Nehru had constituted a commission to study the socio-economic backwardness of the region and prepare a detailed report. The report of the Patel Commission was submitted in 1964, but it was shelved with other files. Since then many governments ruled the Centre and state, but no significant change came to the life of common man of this region. Now, it is upon the new government in the state after the completion of assembly elections to address people's problems.

The main problems of the region are that most of the sugar mills in Deoria and other districts are closed, Gorakhpur fertilizer factory is closed, silk industry is in a crisis, the region faces power shortage, though it produces about 12,000 MW electricity.

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