Union Minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad is pitted against sitting MP and Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha in the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency.
A two-time BJP MP, Mr. Sinha recently joined the Congress. Mr. Prasad is making his Lok Sabha election debut. For the past two weeks, both leaders from the upper-caste Kayastha community have been campaigning hard.
Earlier, as BJP MPs — Mr. Sinha in the Lok Sabha and Mr. Prasad in the Rajya Sabha — they had adopted a village each in the constituency under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. On Friday, The Hindu visited these villages to see how much development has taken place, and how villagers felt about the MPs.
Mr. Prasad adopted Alawalpur in Fatuha block on November 11, 2014. With nearly 6,000 voters, Alawalpur is an upper caste Rajput-dominated village that was considered well-off even before Mr. Prasad adopted it.
Mr. Prasad’s involvement brought 150 solar lamp posts on a concrete road, a National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology, a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) centre, and seven toilets. However, the development works are seen only in the areas where upper caste Rajput families live.
Ram Kewal Singh, ex-village head and Mr. Prasad’s pointsman in the village, says, “Ravi Shankar Prasad has done a lot for this village and he will get our votes.” It is in Mr. Singh’s compound that the institute and the BPO centres run. At the BPO centre, 10 girls are employed for a monthly salary of ₹3,500. They are all from Rajput families.
Mr. Prasad’s development chart goes for a toss when one enters Uttar Chamar Toli (a Dalit hamlet on northern side). Of the two toilets constructed in 2017, one has been locked since then and in the other, bricks and stones chips are stuffed in the pan. The hand pump outside is defunct and the residents of the 22 households go outside in the field. The drainage outside the hamlet overflows with garbage.
“Who cares for us… Mr. Prasad never visits us.. .he goes only to upper caste well-off people’s house,” a resident says.
A few metres away, outside the house of Anuranjan Dubey, the only public health centre is locked. “It opens only on Wednesdays and a nurse comes on the day only for polio drops and ORS (oral rehydration salts),” Mr. Dubey said. The new health centre built under the SAGY is stuffed with fodder in the rooms and the front door is half broken. “This is the development Ravi Shankar Prasad has brought in this village…you can see it by yourself,” Amit Kumar Dubey said.
“We need good road on our western and southern side, a primary health center, drinking water tank and tube-wells…then only our village will be a model village adopted by an MP”, said villager Awadhesh Singh. But, outside the house of village head Upashna Singh over half a dozen SUVs and a tractor are parked, a cemented well, electric transformer and a mobile tower tells a different tale of development. Her husband Rakesh Singh is surrounded by few people. “Even before Ravi Shankar Prasad adopted this village, it has been a well-off village of Rajputs,” he said.
Bidhipur Narauli in the Salimpur police station of Bakhtiyarpur block was adopted by Mr. Sinha in August 2015, but since then, he has visited the village only once. The village with over 2,000 households has 7,000 voters from the Rajput community.
Asked what has Mr Sinha done for the village, the villages said, “Khamos (keep quiet)”, Mr. Sinha’s favourite dialogue. On a few solar lamp posts in the village, Mr. Sinha’s nameplate was seen hanging loosely. Opposite the village temple, a double-storey pink-coloured library was constructed in August 2017, but it was never opened. The staircase is crumbling and the drainage underneath is overflowing with garbage. “It is empty inside… this will be the first of its kind library in the world where not only books and magazines are missing but table and chairs are also not available,” says Manish Kumar, who along with Aakash Kumar and Lucky Raj, is preparing for competitive examinations. The village has no primary health centre. The condition at Rajpur Dalit Tola (hamlet) of the village is more deplorable.
No toilet, no Gas cylinder, we’ve got nothing yet”, said Pushpa Devi. “This time we’re ready to say Khamos for ever to Shatrughan Sinha on the poll day”, they said.
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