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|January 30, 1998||
'They just make promises -- until they are elected'
Madhavrao Sitaram Patil, 45, farmer and former deputy sarpanch, Raver village, Maharashtra
Only those who can do some good for society, who can solve the problems of the people they are supposed to represent, should enter politics. What is the use of owing a field with rich soil, if you don't have the water to irrigate it?
We were lucky; we had a good person to represent our interests. So we have a school in our village today; and all the children go to school every day. We have a dispensary -- unfortunately, we don't have a doctor on a regular basis. When it was started, we had a doctor who was here for six months. But now, the present doctor only comes here occasionally. We would like a full-time doctor, but...
Then, there is no bank near our village; we go to the nearby town of Dhule. But this is not really an important issue with us, so we have not pursued it seriously.
But if we don't, no one else does it either. It is very rare for an elected representative to work for his or her constituency, let alone do any follow-up work. For example, the dam near our village broke in 1992. Ever since, we have had problems irrigating our fields. Before the dam broke, I had taken a loan to build a pipeline that would bring water to the field. So the Rs 20,000 that I spent was a total waste. I had to repay that amount, but the pipeline I have built is of no use to me.
We have tried to get our dam repaired; we have talked to everyone possible in this matter. Finally, the rural development minister, Anna Dange, agreed to help us. He even went to the CM. But it has been estimated that repairs to the dam will cost at least Rs 200,000. So, our request is now pending at the commissioner's office in Pune.
When we have all these issues bothering us, what do we do? Do we think of elections or do we think about how we should solve the problems that are affecting our village?
I only wish that someone like Shalini Borse -- she's the health minister and belongs to the BJP -- who has been our MLA for the last 10 years becomes our MP. She has really been concerned about us, she has found out about our needs and tried to satisfy them. She has seen to it that a samaj mandir (a temple for the society) was built here, that the roads were tarred and that a proper school room was built.
Or, maybe, someone like Indira Gandhi. At least, she gave us a stable government.
As for the others, they just make promises -- until they are elected. They are not concerned about what we need -- like employment for our youth, and the other things that a village may need.
As told to Savera R Someshwar. Photograph: Jewella C Miranda
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