Carpet Capital's Hidden Pain: Renal Stone Disease Goes Unaddressed in Mirzapur's Election Discourse

Lack of facilities in government-run healthcare infrastructures is making treatment more expensive for those who already face financial hardship.
Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh
Mirzapur, Uttar PradeshTarique Anwar/The Mooknayak

Mirzapur (Uttar Pradesh): Straw and reed roof covering brick walls — this is the total asset Sanju, 30, has. Her spouse makes Rs 10,000 a month as a migrant laborer in Mumbai. He is able to send his five-member family Rs 5,000. However, given the skyrocketing inflation, the sum is insufficient to meet the family’s expenses.

Since Sanju has been undergoing treatment for kidney stone disease for more than six months, a major portion of the money goes is spent on the doctor and medicines.

A mother of four, the oldest of whom is a 21-year-old girl, has no idea how long she will endure this misfortune.

“Elections are held every five years. Governments come and go. However, what does not change is our condition. Our survival concerns of impoverished people are never addressed,” the resident of Gohiya Khurd village in Patehra block in Marihan Assembly constituency of Uttar Pradesh’s Mirzapur district told The Mooknayak.

Due to the high concentration of calcium in drinking water, the region has an abundant incidence of renal stone cases, which are caused by crystal deposition in kidneys.

Dr Sanjay Singh, who operates a private nursing home at Deep Nagar where Sanju is receiving treatment, claimed, “Every sixth or seventh person suffers this painful disease in the region, where health facilities are still a far cry.”

One of the primary causes of this disease, he said, is the dangerous level of calcium and a severe water scarcity.

Dr Singh said plenty of water intake is essential to flush out the renal stone, but people here lack access to enough drinking water.

Sanju has been advised to drink at least seven litres of water everyday apart from having papaya juice, pashanbhed or stone-breaker (a well-known plant).

Haliya village resident Chandan Maurya, 31, has been suffering from this disease for the past 15 years. He said he experiences an excruciating stomach ache while doing strenuous labor. 

He had recently gone to see a doctor at the Mirzapur District Hospital, where he was asked to undergo an intravenous pyelogram (IVP). IVP is a kidney-outlining X-ray that allows the radiologist to identify kidney issues in the urinary tract caused by stones.

Since the hospital does not have the necessary equipment, Maurya was ordered to get the X-ray done outside. The nephrology department of the hospital does not even have specialized doctors.

Maurya earns Rs 5,000 a month working as a salesman at a nearby hardware store. At a private diagnostic center, the X-ray costs around Rs 3,000. He finds it hard to afford the amount. 

“What is the purpose of going to government hospitals if they cannot provide these facilities?” he asked.

Ram Balak, a resident of Sarsawa village, too has had kidney stones for the past four years. He has been advised to have surgery, but due to his financial situation, he is unable to get it performed.

“I am a daily wage earner. Since there isn’t a nephrologist at the district hospital, I would have to get the surgery performed in a private hospital,” said the 39-year-old — a member of the Kol tribe, stating, "Every time I saved money from my meager salary for the same, but unexpected events happened and the money was exhausted”.

According to Balak, the government claims to have improved health infrastructure, but the denial of medical care because of inadequate infrastructure calls into question these tall words.

There are pitiful state-run medical facilities in the district of the Vidhyanchal region. Due to the poor facilities and infrastructure of the local hospitals, the populace is forced to travel to neighboring cities for medical treatment.

In the district’s 96 Assembly constituency, the circumstances are comparable. For example, the district’s Patehra block’s Patehra Kalan Primary Health Center (PHC) has five doctors who are supposed to turn up every day. “However, every one of them only visits once a week,” alleged Dr Singh, who was also employed there on contract basis.

Villages up to 12 km in the north, 25 km in the south, 8 km in the east and 15 km in the west are served by the PHC.

Although Marihan has a community health center (CHC) that serves all of these remote communities, people drive 30 to 50 kilometers to go to the district hospital.

Sadly, it is not an issue in the run up of the upcoming general elections. It is convenient for all political leaders to avoid raising the pressing issue of inadequate health infrastructure. Electoral experts claim that even the Opposition is preferring to play the caste card over criticising the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the same.

The state of poverty in the tribal-concentrated area can be gauged from the fact that two meals a day is a luxury for a big population of electorates. They are oblivious to the outside world. They may have come to terms with their fate of misery.

The Mooknayak contacted the district’s civil surgeon, but he refused to comment — citing the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which has been in place since the announcement of the Lok Sabha election schedule.

Doctors in the district civil hospital too denied to come on record. 

Mirzapur Lok Sabha Constituency

Elections for the Mirzapur parliamentary seat are scheduled to be held on June 1 in the seventh phase of the 2024 general elections.

Comprising five legislative assembly seats, Mirzapur has had a significant influence on the political careers of noted politicians such as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Rajya Sabha MP Arun Singh. Late Phoolan Devi scripted history by becoming the first female MP from Mirzapur in 1996.

With over 49% of the population belonging to the backward class and 25% to the scheduled caste/tribe, the constituency is home to a sizable proportion of members of backward and scheduled castes. 

With 591,564 votes, Apna Dal (Sonelal) candidate Anupriya Singh Patel had defeated the Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) nominees in the 2019 general elections. She had grabbed the seat in 2014 as well.

Anupriya, the president of the Apna Dal (S) has served as a minister in the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in the Centre.

Sonelal Patel founded the Apna Dal in the early 1990s. But following his passing, the party split into two camps. With 13 MLAs in the state, Apna Dal (S), which was founded in 2016 by Sonelal’s daughter Anupriya, is a coalition partner of the BJP in the Centre and the state.

The 42-year-old, who previously held the position of Union Minister of State for Health during the first term of the NDA government, is currently serving her second term in the Lok Sabha.

Her father, the late Sonelal Patel, was a well-liked leader among the Kurmis, an OBC caste living in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand. He founded the Apna Dal party in 1995.

But following a disagreement with her mother, the head of the parent party, Anupriya founded Apna Dal (S) ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections. It says it has the backing of non-Yadav OBC groups in Uttar Pradesh like Kushwaha, Maurya, Nishad, Pal, Saini and Kurmis.

The breakaway party kept up its alliance with the BJP, running for nine of the 11 seats up for grabs in the 2017 Assembly elections.

Anupriya received her MBA from Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj University in Kanpur and worked as a professor at Amity University before entering into politics. She is married to UP Legislative Council member Ashish Patel.

Anupriya received her MBA from Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj University in Kanpur and worked as a professor at Amity University before entering politics. She is married to UP Legislative Council member Ashish Patel.

The Samajwadi Party, which is fighting the upcoming polls in an alliance with the Congress, has fielded Rajendra S. Bind to take on Anupriya. 

Bind was born and raised in the Bhadohi district’s Gyanpur. Prior to this, he served as the Bind Social Welfare Association’s national president. He was associated with social work in Gyanpur and Bhadohi even before making a foray into politics.

Only six months had passed since Bind joined the SP. He attempted to get an SP ticket from Bhadohi; however, the seat went to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee. Therefore, the SP nominated him for the Mirzapur parliamentary constituency.

Despite the fact that TMC has never contested from Uttar Pradesh, it declared Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, the son of prominent UP Congress leader Rajesh Pati Tripathi, a former Congress MLA, as its candidate from the constituency for the first time. The SP and TMC get along well.

Rajesh, who is an ex-MLA himself, is the grandson of former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Kamalapati Tripathi.

Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, a Congress candidate who won the Marihan Assembly seat in 2012, apparently intended to run from the nearby town of Mirzapur in 2019. However, he was unsuccessful in his bid to represent the area as a Congress representative, receiving only 8.25% of the vote. He defected to the TMC in 2021 shortly after.

Rajendra Bind has a big business empire. He has an industrialist reputation. By fielding him, a resident of Jagatpur in Bhadohi’s Suriyawan, as a candidate, the SP has attempted to win over the district’s 1.5 lakh Bind voters. It is thought that Binds support the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Under this situation, the SP candidate will attempt to win over the BSP’s voter base. In the most recent Lok Sabha elections, Samudra Devi Bind of the BSP received 2,17,457 votes. She stood second.

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