Varanasi, April 22: Bumper tax collections, overflowing granaries, impressive forex reserves and booming markets. The National Democratic Alliance insists “feel good” is not a slogan, but a fact.
Travelling through eastern Uttar Pradesh — the political cradle of five Prime Ministers and Opposition stalwarts like Ram Manohar Lohia and Raj Narain — it seems the BJP’s phrase has come to mean different things to different people. Committed BJP supporters repeat the arguments put forth by their leaders, but those on the other side of the ideological divide treat “feel good” with the contempt they think it deserves.
Whatever the response, “feel good” has acquired the kind of currency that garibi hatao had decades ago. Here is a sampling of the interpretations of ordinary folk:
“Feel good' Atal Bihari Vajpayee says he will build the Ram temple if voted back to power. That is feel good for him, for me it is feel very bad” — Rajesh Tiwari, a contractor in Ayodhya.
“I will feel good only if the forward castes are given their reservation quota” — R.P. Pandey, retired naval employee in Dugua, Faizabad.
“Feel good ki hawa nikal gayi (feel good has been punctured). Diesel prices are up from Rs 15 to Rs 23.50 and kerosene from Rs 3 to Rs 12 in the NDA government. Where are the one crore jobs Vajpayee promised' The only government-owned telephone plant we had in our area is on the verge of closure. Workers are sitting idle because even government orders are being given to the private sector. There is only feel bad” — Suresh Singh, an unemployed youth in Mankapur, Gonda.
“Yes, I feel good because for the first time there is a good Rajput candidate in my constituency. Feel good and casteism are one and the same here” — Anil Kumar Singh, a Gonda lawyer.
“There is feel good because when Rajnath Singh was the chief minister, he built good roads and later as the Union agriculture minister, he increased the statutory minimum price of sugarcane” — Srikant Singh, a farmer in Rukhnapur, Bahraich.
“The BJP says feel good is about farmers getting easy loans and credit cards. I own two acres of land and am entitled to a credit limit of Rs 50,000. But to get it, I have to cough up a commission of 10 per cent of my limit and then pay an annual interest of 12.5 per cent. Please tell Jaswant Singh I am not feeling good” K.N. Pathak, a Bahraich farmer.
“Feel good' For me, it’s putting up with a 12-hour power cut daily. My loom is lying idle, my weavers have no work and thanks to the boom in Surat textiles, there are no takers for Banarasi saris. A sari that used to cost Rs 4,000 a year ago is selling for Rs 1,000 today” — Riazuddin Ansari, a weaver in Varanasi.
“Feel good is getting diluted. I’ll give an example. We had an excellent senior citizens’ home called the Momukshu Bhavan on Assi ghat. The residents are unable to keep it going after the government slashed the interest on small savings. Many have left it and gone back to live with their sons or daughters.” — V.N. Mishra, electronics engineering professor, Benaras Hindu University.