“Nobody comes to check on us,” tell Loni voters

Maktoob spoke with some of the voters of the Loni constituency.

A small town called Loni in the Ghaziabad district is located approximately 27 kilometres from India’s capital city, this small town is one of the 403 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh up for elections. 

In 2017 – BJP’s MLA NandKishor Gurjar received 1,13,058 votes, while BSP candidate Zakir Ali received 70,249,  Madan Bhaiya of the RLD got 42,518 votes. When Gurjar was elected to power – he promised development of the area.

However, as we approached the town, we were met with dilapidated roads. Water had accumulated in the aftermath of heavy rain, and pedestrians were weaving through flooded lanes.

Maktoob spoke with some of the voters of the Loni constituency.

“No school, no hospital”

“We don’t have proper hospitals here – the small clinics nearby will give you the same medicine for every ailment – we can’t trust them, so we have to travel to Delhi or Meerut for proper treatment,” says Momeena, a Loni resident. 

According to the Times of India report – in Ghaziabad, there is a shortage of paediatricians. At District Combined Hospital and MMG District Hospital, there are two paediatricians each, and at District Women Hospital, there are seven. One is connected to the office of the CMO. 

‘We were promised better facilities in 2017, but it’s been five years and nobody even came to check on us,” Bhagwati tells Maktoob.

Yogi Adityanath, who took over as Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister in March 2017, promised to have pothole-free roads by June 15, 2017. It’s been five years, and Loni’s condition appears to be the polar opposite of what was promised.

“We don’t have proper schools – private school fees are Rs. 500/- we are not financially well-off to afford such fees, if we send our children to government schools, the teachers are not capable, they don’t even teach – you can see them fumbling with their phones all day long, the student-teacher ratio is very uneven, every teacher has to handle 40-50 kids, how is it possible to focus on each child?” Momeena wonders.

Momeena also stated that their area is plagued by numerous issues, such as a lack of adequate water supply and a place to dispose of waste. 

“These leaders only work during election campaigns; when they need our votes, they will fold their hands in front of us,” Bhagwati says.

The voters had many complaints, including the fact that the cost of the cylinder had risen due to inflation, leaving them wondering how they would manage in such a situation. 

“This government thinks it will give us a ration worth Rs 2 and then wash its hands of us,” Bhagwati said.

“BJP playing Hindu-Muslim Politics”

Dr Mahtab Ali, an AIMIM candidate from Loni, claims that the BJP engaged in religious politics, whereas AIMIM wants to focus on development issues. 

“Loni is only a few kilometres from Delhi, but look at the situation here; there’s no girls college, families don’t send their daughters to Delhi, and there hasn’t been any development in the last five years,” Ali explained.

Targeting Loni’s BJP MLA Nand Kishore Gurjar, Ali stated that there has been no progress in five years – “BJP played the politics of religion,” Ali added. 

In response to Nand Kishore Gurjar’s communal remark, “Nah Ali, Nah Baahubali, sirf Bajrang Bali.”

Dr Mahtab Ali stated that people of all religions will live here, whether it’s Ali or Bajrang Bali.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi announced in November that his party will run for 100 of Uttar Pradesh’s 403 Assembly seats. 

“Yogi, Modi gave us Ram Mandir”

As we approached a BJP public rally in Loni, large banners of Prime Minister Modi, Chief Minister Yogi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and BJP MLA Nand Kishor Gurjar were being set up.

Hoards of people wearing saffron scarfs and BJP caps were waiting for Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP MLA Nand Kishor to deliver their speeches.

“Modi ji, Yogi ji gave us Ram Temple,” one of the BJP supporters stated.

When asked about the lack of development, the BJP supporter added, “If you want to see development, see it without your bias.”

The supporters went on to say that since the day PM Modi and CM Yogi laid the foundation for the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, they have spread a message of peace throughout the country.

The crowd applauded the BJP slogan “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas.”

“We all want to live peacefully”

AIMIM supporters stated that there hasn’t been any development in their area. 

“We all want to live peacefully, but these BJP leaders only want to play the politics of religion,” said a voter.

Concerning the area’s dilapidated roads, one voter stated, “we have written to the authorities but have received no response from them.”

“Nand Kishor ji came here asking for votes and promised us better roads, it’s been five years he didn’t look back to see our conditions,” said another voter.

The Assembly elections will take place in seven stages between February 10 and March 7. On February 10, 58 constituencies will vote in the first phase of the election.

Arshi Qureshi is an independent journalist based in Delhi.