A Congress candidate seeks votes selling n-deal

May 1st, 2009 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Sahil Makkar
Vaidpur (Noida), May 1 (IANS) A nuclear deal with the US that almost felled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government last year is not something that the Congress has put on its campaign agenda. But some candidates, like the one in Noida, are going around telling people that the nuclear agreement will finally end the chronic power shortages that have plagued this constituency.

“Last year we signed a nuclear deal with the US. When the reactors will be set up, we will have abundant energy to meet all our electricity needs. You will get electricity but it might take two-three years,” Ramesh Chand Tomar, 59, tells a gathering of around 50 male villagers of the Dadri area.

Vaidpura village, where Tomar was speaking, is located 40 km from the national capital New Delhi. Unlike many villages, it boasts of good road connectivity but is hungry for electricity.

“Before coming to your village, I was told by the people of adjacent Sanpura village about the same problem,” added Tomar, formerly of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who now proudly wears, like most Congress politicians, the trademark white kurta-payjama.

But if Tomar thought he was weaving magic, he is off the mark. The villagers, seated on cots in the courtyard of a large house, smoke bidis and listen to Tomar with visible disbelief.

“Every candidate who comes for votes promises electricity by the next Monday. Neither has the Monday come nor the electricity. And he is preaching about the nuclear deal,” a disgusted Chitte Singh, formerly of the Indian Air Force, told IANS.

“It’s been four days since we have been without electricity. The transformer which supplies power to the village crashed more than a week ago,” he added.

Vikram Singh, among the most educated people in the village, detailed the woes of the simple rural folk.

“Our village wheat-grinding machines have been non-operational for days as there is no power supply. We are now forced to go to other villages to get wheat flour.

“We are so helpless that we cannot call an ambulance in an emergency because our mobile phone batteries have been exhausted. Two children have fallen sick due to mosquito bites.

“In the day, it’s so hot here that our children cannot study. At night, it’s all dark,” said Vikram Singh, pointing to a smoky oil lamp dangling from the low ceiling.

He used to teach the village youngsters earlier but lack of lighting has put a stop to that.

Gujjars dominate the voter population of nearly 5,000 in the village. Like other 900 hamlets and villages in the constituency, the lack of power is a recurring complaint.

Explained Ranvir Singh, a farmer: “Electricity is the only problem here. We do have everything here. But there is no power supply, and still we are made to pay at least Rs.250 (a month).”

Tomar, who has won three Lok Sabha elections on the BJP ticket before he switched loyalty to the Congress, also talks politics. In his short speech in Hindi, he rants against BJP leader L.K. Advani.

“If you want to stop Advani from becoming prime minister of the country, then vote for the Congress and Manmohan Singh,” he says.

His opponents include the BJP’s Mahesh Sharma, 48, Surendra Nagar, 44, of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Narendra Bhati, 50, of the Samajwadi Party.

The constituency, which will see polling May 7, is a mixture of the urban and rural areas including Noida and Greater Noida, home to scores of foreign companies and multinationals.

But in Vaidpura, the villagers can only complain. “I plead with folded hands, please get rid of these mosquitoes,” says a despondent elderly man, Braham Singh. None of the candidates has an answer to that.

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