If farm loan waiver is the key issue in the Vidarbha region, then around 600 km away, in Dhule and adjoining areas of northern Maharashtra [ Images ], development of irrigation and industry seems to be the caller tune of politics in the run-up to the assembly polls.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's [ Images ] candidate in Shindkheda, Jaikumar Rawal's fat report card has picture of two barrages on its cover. In the Dhule (rural) seat, Shiv Sena [ Images ] contestant Sharad Patil is distributing leaflet announcing 31 commitments -- the top of the list is to complete the work of Akkalbari dam providing water for farming to his voters.
The Congress is also playing its cards on irrigation in this part of Maharashtra. At her rally in Nashik, party president Sonia Gandhi [ Images ] mentioned how Rs 22,500 crore has been spent for irrigation in north Maharashtra, while Chief Minister Ashok Chavan [ Images ] pointed out that the state government has provided package worth Rs 6,500 crore for the development of north Maharashtra.
Almost all the candidates are blaming their opponents for the delay in making the local barrages in northern Maharashtra fully functional. "Ours is a tribal area with low rainfall. There are 4-5 barrages but the water hasn't reached the fields. The Wadishevadi dam is ready but lift irrigation facilities are yet to come. This is our main issue," says Raju Saner, elder brother of Shindkheda's Congress candidate, Shyamkanth Saner.
The northern district of Jalgaon boasts of some reputed industries like Wipro [ Get Quote ] Technologies, Marico and Raymond's textile division, but the closure of many small-scale industries have forced the political parties to take up the issue of employment.
"In Naldana, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation has declared an industrial park but no industry has taken off there so far. Around 10,000 hectares of land has already been identified, " says Raju Saner.
But the irony is, even as political parties vouch for development, Suzlon Energy's [ Get Quote ] wind power project near Dhule has run into trouble. And the man behind the fiasco, Anil Gote, is banking on his 'protest programmes' to win the Dhule (city) seat. "Suzlon had taken land from farmers at Rs 7,000 to Rs 25,000 per acre but paid Rs 2.5 lakh-Rs 4 lakh per acre for forest land. I am against this. I have told Suzlon it has to give proper compensation to the farmers. Why can't it give a few lakh rupees to poor farmers?" Gote tells Business Standard.