A board that reads ‘BJP members not allowed’ greets visitors at Greater Noida’s Kachera village, which was adopted by sitting Gautam Budh Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma almost five years ago. While the board was put up last October, to reflect the residents’ frustrations over land acquisition, locals say it will likely become a poll issue when the constituency votes on April 11.
“We are disillusioned. Mahesh Sharma hasn’t visited the village since he adopted it. We’d rather pick NOTA,” said 28-year-old resident Kuldeep Nagar, who was once part of the ABVP.
The village pradhan claimed that the BJP talks about the Army, but their village, home to Vir Chakra Lance Havildar Gian Chand, is yet to be provided a memorial spot.
“He was awarded the Vir Chakra posthumously for his bravery during the 1971 war. All we asked for is a small memorial spot. We have been building it with our own money,” said Tej Singh.
The village has also been at the centre of a 13-year-old conflict with a private building company, which, villagers claimed, acquired land without providing adequate compensation. In October 2018, protests broke out when standing crops were allegedly destroyed at the company’s behest, prompting police to take action. Several compensation cases are pending in the Allahabad High Court and Surajpur District Court.
Villagers also claimed that as part of development policies, 60 solar lights had been provided — but many without working batteries. With neither a bank nor a hospital, residents have to travel either to Ghaziabad or Greater Noida.
“The only functioning school is a private one, managed by funds of previous pradhans. There is only one primary school, and a degree college is a dream,” said Tej Singh, who is backing SP-BSP candidate Satveer Nagar.
Responding to the allegation by residents, Vinay Bhati, BJP district chief, Gautam Budh Nagar, said: “There are a few people in the village who think that development has not been carried out and, therefore, another party should be voted into power. The truth is, you cannot claim that the entire village thinks so; few people cannot define the thinking for all. It is possible there are simple innocent people who want to vote for the BJP and they are being misled by a few political people. There has been constant work by the MP for their compensation. I will visit the people and listen to their grievances. We need to be with people.”
Mahesh Sharma, who is also the Union Minister State for Tourism & Culture, could not be contacted for comment despite repeated attempts.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Nagar said: “… Everyone knows the ground reality… I plan to change the face of this place once elected.”