While falling sugarcane prices posed a big issue for BJP in the sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh during the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls, for the next phase, the party has to contend with another difficult issue- low prices of potatoes.
Farmers have faced severe losses of potato crop in the last three years in this region with the humble tuber now favoured more for its “political value” rather than for its “calories”.
On Monday, while addressing election rallies in Fatehpur Sikri, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and East UP general secretary Priyanka Gandhi discussed the problems faced by potato farmers. Congress candidate from the seat Raj Babbar too promised a processing unit for potatoes.
As per official data, potatoes are cultivated on 56,000 hectares of land in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, in 40,000 hectares of land in Hathras and around 20,000 hectares of land in Aligarh district.ANI talked to several farmers in the area who were of the view that BJP might face the heat in this elections due to the farm distress.
A farmer Pradeep Sharma from the Fatehpur Sikri said that the prices of the seed crops of potatoes are very high and the crop does not sell well. In five years I have accumulated a debt of Rs 35 lakh. A lot of money is required for cultivating aloo (potatoes).
“I have also attempted committing suicide. I took my produce to sell in Maharashtra but I could get only Rs 490 Rs for it. I put te money in an envelope and sent it to the Prime Minister. This debt of mines will definitely cost the BJP in this election,” Sharma said.
Uma Shankar, a farmer said, “We do not get the right prices for our potatoes. We are now thinking of growing wheat. The government does not focus on us. BJP will face losses in this election.”Famers also say that merchants are not purchasing from cold storage due to which they are also suffering losses.
The BJP has fielded sitting MP Babulal Choudhary from Fatehpur Sikri the Congress has fielded its state unit president Raj Babbar.
Making it a three-sided fight the BSP has fielded Guddu Pandit from the constituency.
Agra, Fatehpur Sikri , Hathras, Aligarh, Firozabad Kannauj and Farukhabad are among the seven seats from Western Uttar Pradesh out of which BJP had won 5 Lok Sabha seats last election in 2014.
The LS polls in the rest 72 seats of the state are scheduled to be held in six phases (second to seventh) from April 18 to May 19. The results will be announced on May 23.