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Close encounters of the live-wire kind

Sunday, 27 April 2014 - 6:40am IST | Place: DHARBHANGA | Agency: dna

In Barambora village, some 40-km from Dharbhanga city, Abhi Ram Chowdhry is awaiting BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi to take over Delhi and fix a burnt transformer in his village of 1,800 souls.

The village has been without electricity for over the past 15 years after a 25KV transformer installed in his hamlet burnt out due to excessive load. Since then, despite several representations and running exercises through offices, the burnt transformer stands at a village crossroad like some kind of an archaeological structure, reminding the villagers that they once had power.

Just 10-km away, in a village in Tumul panchayat, electricity is being considered a curse. In order to pocket money, the electricity department pitched bamboos to carry the electric lines and they are now almost touching the ground. In the past one year, 10 buffaloes and three villagers have either died or been maimed due to electric shock.

Village Diha in Shahebpur Kamal block in the neighbouring Begusarai district, had electricity connection till 1984. But a massive flood washed away the electric polls here. Since then nobody has come to the village to reinstall the polls or reinstate electricity.

Like Chowdhry, Ram Kumar Yadav of Tumulare is not a traditional BJP supporter. The villages here have been voting for the RJD and in between switched to JD (U) after the latter had promised to construct a road and to put up polls for electric lines.

"We have now pitched our hopes on Modi to fix our problems. We are fed up, having to run around offices leaving our fields. They don't listen to us," says Yadav.

Village Dauvi, around 50-km from Dharbhanga city, is just opposite the electricity sub-station. It has no power, however. An engineer in the sub-station told dna that they had submitted a plan to electrify the village 10 years ago, but were still awaiting orders and funds to purchase 500-meter wires.

Social scientists Prof Dharmindra Kumar Singh, who after retirement had taken to farming at his ancestral village, was shocked to read in a newspaper last year that a lot of money was being spent for maintaining the tube-well in his village. "The tube-well has been lying unused for over eight years. We had been pleading with the authorities to repair and maintain it. But now we hear that in government records it is a live pump and funds were being allocated for its maintenance for 8 years now," said Kumar.

'Not our cup of tea'
BJP's massive advertisement blitz portraying the Gujarat model of development as panacea for all ills has touched the imagination of the floating voters, who give vote on issues of development cutting across caste and community. But more than those in the Muslim community, it is this voter segment that is now perturbed at BJP's Nawada candidate Girijar Singh's remarks that those who don't like Modi as PM should go to Pakistan. They are equally perturbed at former BJP president Nitin Gadkari's statement that casteism is in Bihar's DNA.

NDA candidates in the region—LJP's Ram Sundar Paswan, brother of Ram Vilas Paswan contesting from Samastipur reserve seat, and BJP's KirtiJha Azad, contesting from Dharbhanga—told dna that such statements wouldn't work for them.

"I have been appealing to all groups in my constituency. I don't want to remain confined to one caste or community. My development plan is inclusive and for all," said Azad. Paswan also said his party had warned ally BJP to rein in its leaders and desist addressing society on sectarian lines.

BJP candidates here told dna that they had instructions from the party high command to focus only on developmental issues.

"Some BJP leaders are going overboard. Many Hindus simply hate such utterances and are moving away from the BJP. The tragedy is that the party does not understand this," said Professor Sachidanand Singh of LN Mishra University in Dharbhanga.

A Bihar court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to Giriraj Singh. But his troubles are far from over, as two separate FIRs have been lodged against him in Jharkhand's Bokaro and Deogarh for making inflammatory speech during campaigning.

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