Nawadih (Jharkhand): Ever heard of paying Rs5 to recharge a mobile phone battery? Welcome to Nawadih village, which falls under Jharkhand’s Tamar constituency from where chief minister Shibu Soren is seeking to enter the state assembly—the locals here have to pay up each time their cell phones run out of charge.
“What can we do? This is our fate. As there is no electricity in the village, most of us use solar power for energy requirement, and some of us make a living by recharging cells (of mobile phones),” says D. Pramanik, a resident of Nawadih.
The by-poll in the constituency, some 60km away from state capital Ranchi, is scheduled for 5 January. Soren is among the 15 candidates in the fray for the by-poll.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, or JMM, strongman needs to enter the assembly within six months of taking over as the state chief minister on 27 August, 2008, replacing independent Madhu Koda.
“We don’t expect much from the political leaders. They come during polls only to make promises that remain unfulfilled,” says an elderly woman in the village.
“The crowd you find now has come just to see the helicopter, and not to see the leaders,” adds the woman showing her distrust of politicians’ campaigning in the area.
It is not only the lack of electricity that has angered thevillagers, but also a canal going dry because of damage to the barrage on the Kanchi river, affecting irrigation in the area.
“The villagers depend on agriculture and with the canal going dry for a year, the farmers are depending on rainwater and wells,” says a teacher of Nawadih high school, requesting not to be identified.
The ruling United Progressive Alliance has promised electricity and water to the villagers, and several alliance leaders, including Union minister Subodhkant Sahay, have been campaigning for Soren.
The counting will be held on 8 January.
Tamar is a Naxalite stronghold and 35 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed to conduct free and fair poll. The by-poll for this seat was necessitated following the gunning down of Janata Dal (United) legislature party leader Ramesh Singh Munda on 9 July last year.