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India Stinking: Two toilets, 10,000 people!
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai |
April 24, 2004 18:14 IST
India is stinking and not shining, according to some residents of Dharavi in Central Mumbai.
When Lok Sabha Speaker and Shiv Sena candidate Manohar Joshi visited his Mumbai North Central constituency on Saturday, the last day of campaigning, he did not mention the National Democratic Alliance government's India Shinning campaign.
He told voters about how he could change their lives with the Rs 500 crore grant of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to one of the biggest and dirtiest slums in Asia.
At an open ground near the Dharavi's 90 Feet Road junction, residents eagerly listened to Joshi deliver his speech. The stink at the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority plot is unbearable as it is used as a toilet.
Aslam Sheikh, a resident of Donger Khanna, said, "The ground is used by Donger Khanna residents to answer nature's call. Some trucks came here recently and leveled the ground with mud and stones. But they could not complete the job in time for the election meeting.''
Besides the stink of excreta, a strange smell hangs over the area. Sheikh blamed it on the Charbi (animal fat) and Chamdi (animal hide) market nearby.
When asked why the residents don't use toilets, Raj Yadav, another resident, said, "There was one toilet for 10,000 people. Manohar Joshisaab constructed another one six months ago. But two toilets are not sufficient for us.''
When asked what India Shining meant to him, Sheikh said, "I don't know what shining means to my life, as there has been little change for me in the last five years. I work at a chemical factory.''
Sheikh added, "I have got a mobile phone so I can keep in touch with my family in Uttar Pradesh. And there is a shorter queue for kerosene at ration shops. These two things have changed in five years. But the stink has not gone from my life."
Ask Sheikh and Yadav whom they will vote for, and without blinking an eyelid, the reply is: 'Joshisaab.'
'There is no strong opposition to him. Whatever change can take place in the constituency can be done only by him,' they explained.
When Raj Thackeray, Shiv Sena Bal Thackeray's nephew, arrived at the venue in a Mercedez Benz car, party workers shouted slogans in praise of him and the party. Local Shiv Sainiks then announced that Saeeda Bodkar, a Muslim leader, would join the party and dedicate her life to it.
Amid applause, Raj said, "I just saw Saeedaji read her speech, written in Urdu script. This sounded to all of us as Hindi. It is better to listen to leaders like Saeedaji than to the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi), who writes her script in English and reads it out in Hindi."
Joshi said, "My Muslim sister Saeeda has proved today by coming here that the Shiv Sena is not a party of Hindus, but for everyone.''
''I am sure every person will vote for me and press the button of the bow and arrow. Let me remind you that the bow and arrow is the Shiv Sena symbol. This time there will be electronic voting. So press hard on the bow and arrow symbol so that I can sit on the arrow and reach New Delhi this time with a heavy margin," he added.