Kairana (UP), May 22: In the Muslim-dominated seat Kairana, which is going to polls on May 28 necessitated following the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh, the main issue is not why the Aligarh Muslim University had a portrait of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah but ganna (sugarcane). The Jinnah portrait row was expected to dominate the campaigns in the Kairana seat but what the farmers at this seat are more concerned about is their ganna payment that they are yet to receive.

Speaking over the ‘ganna over Jinnah’ campaigns in Kairana, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that the government has been trying to give the farmers their dues but as far as Jinnah is concerned, he was the one who was instrumental in the division of India and “he doesn’t deserve any respect”.

“How does it matter whether or not AMU has a photo of Pakistan’s founder? Our only concern today is cane payment,” farmer Jitender Hooda told The Indian Express. Hooda supplies sugarcane to Shamli factory of Sir Shadi Lal Enterprises which alone has sugarcane dues of Rs 190.33 crore.

There are a total of six sugarcane mills in Kairana constituency. There are four private sugarcane mills — Shamli factory of Sir Shadi Lal Enterprises, Rana Sugars’ factory in Unn, Bajaj Hindusthan’s in Thana Bhawan and Uttam Sugar’s in Shermau — and two cooperative —Sarsawa and Nanauta. This year, the six sugarcane mills bought ganna worth Rs 1,778.49 crore. However, the mills have till now paid only Rs 888.03 crore against Rs 1,695.25 crore.

While Shamli factory of Sir Shadi Lal Enterprises has sugarcane dues of Rs 190.33 crore, Unn has dues worth Rs 182.84 crore, Thana Bhawan has Rs 182.80 crore, Nanauta has Rs 115.66 crore, Shermau has Rs 80.79 crore, and Sarsawa Rs 54.79 crore.

“The BJP’s manifesto stated that we will get full payment for our cane within 14 days of sale. Minister for Sugarcane Development Suresh Rana is himself the MLA (member of legislative assembly) from Thana Bhawan. Yet, there been no payment after December 31 and this government is even allowing sugar imports from Pakistan,” said another farmer Brahm Pal Singh.

At a rally in Shamli, RLD president Ajit Singh said that the farmers are suffering as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has tried to divide the farmers on basis of religion. “You have a chance to vote again as farmers and not bother about the religion or caste of your candidate,” he said. The Kairana seat had 16 lakh voters including 5.5 lakh Muslims and 1.5 lakh Jats.

Uttar Pradesh minister Suresh Rana admitted that payment to the farmers is an issue. “Yes, there are cane dues, but our mills have already paid more than what they did in the entire 2015-16 season. We are doing everything possible to expeditiously clear the arrears,” he told The Indian Express.