‘No one comes as we’re Dalits’: Resentment and perpetual struggle in UP’s poorest seat

The BJP is hoping for a hat-trick in Bahraich by relying on its welfare schemes. But locals say nothing has changed.

WrittenBy:Rajan Chaudhary
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This is the fifth story in a special series with The Mooknayak on the election machine in reserved constituencies.

Rajkumar Gautam, a daily wager from Mohammadpur gram panchayat in Bahraich district, doesn’t know who his local MP and MLA are. Lying on a broken cot in his mud house, all he cares about is whether he will be able to afford increasingly expensive food essentials and feed his family.

“I feel that no one comes to our village because we’re Dalits. A lot of work has been done in the neighbouring villages. But in my village, if we don’t cover the roof with plastic when it rains, the house gets flooded,” he said, claiming that nothing has changed for his family irrespective of who represents Bahraich.

Bahraich is the poorest district in Uttar Pradesh, and the Bahraich Lok Sabha seat, which is a reserved constituency for the Scheduled Castes, is among the state’s 13 segments going to the polls in the fourth phase on May 13. It’s been won by the BJP in the last two general elections in a state that has voted the BJP back to power for two consecutive terms.

Scheduled Castes form 20 percent of Bahraich’s electorate, Muslims 30 percent, backward castes 30 percent, and the rest are from the general category.

While multidimensional poverty in the district has dipped from 72 percent in 2016 to 55 percent, according to NITI Aayog’s Multidimensional Poverty Index last year, locals allege not much has changed on the ground.

From public toilet to health

In Murgiha village under Chittaura block, where SCs form 1,200 of the 4,600 total voters, the public toilet was locked, its walls near collapse.

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