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Madhya Pradesh: Grim poverty, government apathy

April 30, 2009

A Ganesh Nadar is shocked at the poverty and governmental apathy visible across Madhya Pradesh, in spite of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan's much publcised welfare schemes.

Dear Shivraj Singh Chauhanji:

You have won an election against incumbency without any development, without water and without power in your state. People said it was your social welfare schemes, mainly aimed at women, which tilted the balance in your favour. I believed you as I sat next to you at a press conference in your party headquarters in Bhopal last week.

I have traveled across your huge state, all the way to Siddhi, Satna and Gwalior. The experience has been enlightening. I saw no signs of your schemes anywhere. I am shocked!

The road from Satna to Siddhi -- all 69 kilometres of it -- is as bad as (then Madhya Pradesh chief minister) Digvijay Singh left it long long ago. Your party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has gone through an entire term. In its second innings, your government has not even started work on this pathetic stretch. Is it because it is too far from Bhopal and the media will not come here?

Rama Sankar is a labourer. He lives in Pademiya village on the outskirts of Sidhi. There are 25 families in his mohalla. Please listen to what he has to say.

"In these 25 houses, only three families have ration cards. They had to bribe the secretary and panchayat president to get it. Nobody got the 100-day employment, under the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), here. The NREGA started and stopped within 20 days," he rues.

Rama Sankar has four children -- two sons in Class 8 and Class 10, one married daughter and one unmarried one.

Image: Rama Sankar. Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar

Also see: The secret of Shivraj Singh Chauhan's success | India Votes 2009