1. News

UP Elections: People in Mathura Distressed Due to Widespread Unemployment & High Living Cost

Potato prices are down, living costs are increasing, and farmers are in desperate difficulties. However, the majority of Mathura voters forgive the BJP.

Chintu Das
Amit Shah
Amit Shah

A big potato harvest and declining prices have put a pall over Mathura, which lies inside Uttar Pradesh's enormous potato region. Despite the hardship of farmers and widespread unemployment, many locals claim they still have faith in the BJP and would vote for 'Hindu pride' and 'national interest.'

The bathe (market) at Surya Nagar is a veritable sea of potatoes. There are trucks full of them and bags bursting at the seams with them.

Unfortunately, this premium isn't worth much because wholesale potato prices have been stuck around Rs 5-6 for months, compared to Rs 8 or 9 a year ago. This is a troubling scenario for the UP potato belt, which extends from Agra and Mathura to Kanpur and Etawah (and accounts for over 30% of the country's total potato output), especially when coupled with high diesel costs, DAP (diammonium phosphate fertiliser) shortages, and inflation.

"There isn't any other work here... there aren't any manufacturers or government job programmes." There is no mechanism in place by the government to prevent potato prices from plummeting. We also have to pay for things like maintaining crops in cold storage, transportation fuel, and fertiliser," A farmer said. "I'll cast my ballot for the Samajwadi Party."

While Mathura is known for its potatoes, the region's identity is more closely linked to its Krishna status. janmabhoomi (birthplace of Krishna). Many Hindu voters in the region still look to the BJP to protect their religious heritage.

The BJP's campaign in the area, which has five seats (four of which are held by the party), has also concentrated on pledges to build a big temple in Mathura to equal those in Ayodhya and Kashi.

"We don't have an option except to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party."

Commercial enterprises along Krishna can (way), which runs near the Krishna Janmasthan temple complex, have seen a drop in business during the last two years.

Covid lockdowns, according to DS Solanki, who manages a hotel here, "destroyed" his business, and infrastructure had made little development over the years. He claims, though, that this hasn't dimmed his ardour for the BJP.

"BJP ko salut dena hoga voter toh hamein" (We have no choice but to vote for the BJP). Deshbhakti must be voted for (patriotism). "It is the sole Hindu party," Solanki stated.

The BJP leaders concentrated their emphasis on the Mathura temple issue in the run-up to the elections.

Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, mentioned it at a speech in Amroha last month. "The Ram Temple will be built in Ayodhya, while the Lord Shiva Temple will be built in Kashi." So how are Mathura and Vrindavan going to be forgotten? The CM stated.

Despite the fact that Mathura is a major centre for Hindutva politics, the political environment is more complicated than it looks.

Five seats are up for grabs

In the Mathura Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP presently has four of the five assembly seats.

The Mathura assembly constituency was a bastion for the Congress until 2017, when Shrikant Sharma, a BJP candidate, defeated four-time MP Pradeep Mathur.

Amit Shah, the Home Minister, and Yogi Adityanath, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, have campaigned for him, although there are anti-incumbent emotions against Sharma (who is also the state's energy minister) because of his apparent lack of leadership.

The Chhata assembly constituency is a Jat-Thakur majority seat, and incumbent MP and minister Chaudhary Laxmi Narayan Singh is fighting for re-election. Govardhan and Baldev are similarly dominated by the Jat population, which is presently viewed as anti-party following the Farm Bills scandal.

The most fascinating seat in the region, however, is Manth, which is the only constituency in the region which the BJP did not win in the last assembly elections.

On February 10, voters in the first round of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections will cast ballots in all five seats.

Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters