Former union minister Yashwant Sinha on Thursday said there is a "great deal of agrarian distress" in the country that may have reflected in the voting pattern in the recent assembly polls, but asserted it will be a "grave error of judgement" to call assembly results a trend-setter for Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Sinha, who has been a vocal critic of the current BJP leadership and the government and had quit the party in April, also said that the election results, especially in the three Hindi heartland states, have "clearly proven" that Ram temple issue or "communal polarisation" does not cut ice with the people.
His comments came after the Congress wrested power from the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Congress had made farmers' issues a major poll plank.
Interacting with reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of South Asia here, Mr Sinha claimed "agrarian distress" has emerged as a "major issue" in the country, and the polls, perhaps, reflected that too.
The former union finance minister said, "I know the condition of farmers, I have personally been a witness to that. And, I can say, without fear of contradiction, that there is a great deal of agrarian distress, not just in states which went to polls recently but all across the country."
Mr Sinha said there was no quick remedy to these problems and "farmers were not happy, in fact, they were angry".
"And, maybe, it reflected in the voting pattern," he said, adding, "I hope political parties will pay attention and take some steps to alleviate their conditions".
Mr Sinha, in his address, also said that the results in these elections do represent a "certain distress" at the grassroots level, but, underlined that voters have learned to "distinguish" between a state election and a general election.
"Look at the history of elections in three Hindi heartlands -- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh -- where elections have preceded Lok Sabha polls for a number of times. While we can read some meaning into the results, it will be a grave error of judgement to say they set a trend for the future or that this is what is going to happen in general elections," he said.
Many parties have lost the assembly polls but won in Lok Sabha and others have won state polls but lost in general elections, he said.
Asked if the raking up of Ram temple issue went against the BJP, the former union minister said, "I would say, elections in these five states, especially the Hindi heartland, have clearly proven that the Ram Temple issue or communal polarisation does not cut ice with the people."
He also appeared to take a veiled dig at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who had been vocal about the Ram Temple issue during campaigning for the polls and had renamed Allahabad and Faizabad recently.
"Also, in the run up to these elections, too much trust on one individual in the BJP, who they thought would be able to polarise the voters. He failed comprehensively," Mr Sinha said.