Stray cows add to Modi’s farmer woes as Indian election looms « Khabarhub
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Stray cows add to Modi’s farmer woes as Indian election looms


06 February 2019  

Time taken to read : 3 Minute


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UTTAR PRADESH: As night fell on the bucolic northern Indian hamlet of Mahaban, Gopi Chand Yadav gathered blankets and a flashlight to spend the night sitting on a wooden platform in his field. His task: to use bamboo sticks to ward off stray cattle from intruding and eating a maturing mustard crop.

Like Yadav, many thousands of farmers stay awake to guard their farms over a cold winter or face losing their crops to the cattle – a double whammy for growers already reeling from a plunge in Indian crop prices.

Protecting cows – considered sacred to Hindus – was one of the measures meant to shore up support in the heavily populated, Hindi-speaking belt across northern India that has been a heartland of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP). Instead, it is creating a backlash, even among Hindu farmers.

While stray cows ambling around towns and villages have always been a feature of life in rural India, farmers say their number has increased sharply in recent years to the extent that they have become a menace, and blame the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

Protecting cows – considered sacred to Hindus – was one of the measures meant to shore up support in the heavily populated, Hindi-speaking belt across northern India that has been a heartland of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP). Instead, it is creating a backlash, even among Hindu farmers.

“We already had enough problems and now the government has created one more,” said octogenarian farmer Baburao Saini from Kakripur village, about 85 kilometers (50 miles) from New Delhi. “For the first time, we’ve been forced to stay in the fields to protect our crops.”

More than 50 farmers Reuters spoke to in Mahaban and nine other villages in Uttar Pradesh state said they would think twice before voting for Modi’s BJP in the next general election, due by May. The cattle issue and low farm prices are major reasons behind their disillusionment with a party that most say they voted for in the last election in 2014.

Modi swept Uttar Pradesh at that poll, winning 73 of 80 seats in India’s most populous state, with rural voters swayed by a promise of higher crop prices, and as Hindu farmers supported the BJP amid tensions with the minority Muslim community. (Reuters)

Publish Date : 06 February 2019 12:33 PM

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