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It's sadak, bijli, pani over Hindutva in Modi's home district
December 02, 2007 15:42 IST
They are not oblivious to the propaganda of the BJP and Congress, but not many at Mehsana, located about 90 km from Ahmedabad, are concerned about political gimmickry.
It is a mature electorate here who knows how to differentiate between hollow promises and actual progress. They have dreams of a developed Gujarat in their eyes and are ready to side by the leader who promises to deliver the goods.
Many here may swear by the ruling political party but they have their check-list of work done ready in their minds. They are not concerned what political parties say against each other.
It's the development of their village and district that matters, the locals say, while expressing happiness over the fact that villages in Chief Minister Narendra Modi's [Images] home district has basic facilities like roads, power and water today.
They also add that propaganda like Modi being an autocrat (as alleged) or BJP's political agenda of Hindutva doesn't matter to them. The changes their villages here have witnessed � like 24-hour electricity, potable water through Narmada canal, roads comparable to state capital -- today make them proud of their district, which has given the state two chief ministers (Modi and Shankarsinh Vaghela).
Auto driver Kanu S Thakore expresses happiness about the condition of the roads. "They have come up in the last few years only and are as good as Ahmedabad," he exclaims.
He said issues like Hindutva doesn't matter to him and he was only concerned about the development of his village.
"Earlier, local goons would snatch money from people in the night. People were scared of coming out. But now they fear the law and you can see people out of their homes late in the night," he said, adding the district witnessed the change in the last three-four years.
However, people maintain that Mehsana has not been given any special treatment just because it is the chief minister's native district. Just a few kilometres from there is Talvadia village, dominated by the Chaudhary community. The people here agree and disagree with the BJP's claims of development.
Former deputy sarpanch Gulabbhai Haribhai Chaudhary admitted that progress has been made in the village. "Kaam to hua hai," he said.
But he is not satisfied with the amount of work that has been done. "We get only 8 hours of electricity a day in our fields. The duration should be extended to at least 10-12 hours. There is work left in the pond (a part of rain water harvesting) and we want our village to be connected to the highway through Tarhati and Dela," he said.
Meanwhile, there are some who outrightly dismiss claims of development work done by the Modi government. "No work has been done. Power, roads and schools were here since 70s," claimed a Congress-follower.
"It's during Modi's rule that the duration of electricity has gone down. The power tariff has increased up to Rs 840 per hp from Rs 500 for the same unit."
Deputy sarpanch Sagaram Chaudhary identified high water tariff and short duration of electricity supply as cause of major problems for the people, particularly the farming community.
People from another village, Ambaji Para, seemed content with the government. "Sab Suvidha hai (We have almost all the facilities)," said Natthubhai H Patel, a stall owner.
Businessman Ashiwinbhai Patel, meanwhile, is very happy that octroi tax has been scrapped. "This has been a great help to us," he said, adding work relating to the court and municipal corporation can now be done without any hassle.
Prakash Jijani, proprietor of Natraj hotels, maintained that with the district getting basic amenities like roads, power and water, people's life has improved in all spheres.
"With development, the price of real estate has gone up. Since all the villages are well connected, each village has about 25-50 autos now which has made public transport better, besides giving a source of income to people.
"Similarly, agriculture and animal husbandry sectors have witnessed improvements as well," said Jijani.
Expressing optimism about the future, these villagers dream of a 'Naya Gujarat'. "We are sure it will happen," said one such hopeful.