“Bijli nai to vote nai (No power, no vote).”
For around 1,000 and odd residents of Murarchak, a village located not more than 5km from Saguna Mor, the western tip of present town area of Patna, electricity is the deciding factor for casting their votes this parliamentary election.
While elders have claimed that they would vote for that person or party, which would bring electricity to their village, youngsters have decided they would boycott elections if connection from the newly installed transformer in their village is not given to the houses before polling date, April 17, hardly three days away.
“I have stopped studying due to poor electricity supply here. The voltage is so low that the bulbs hardly emit any light in the night. The blades of fans also hardly move due to very low voltage. How can I study in such conditions?” said Aakash Kumar (17), who has completed his matriculation this year.
Aakash is not eligible to vote but other youngsters like Bhola Kumar, who are eligible to exercise their franchise, are determined to boycott polling this time. “Humlog bhi rajdhani Patna me rehte hain, lekin yanha ka condition kisi gaanv se kam kharab nai hai. Koi ladka gaon ka vote nai dega agar bijli nai aaya election se pehle. Tin din baki hai bus, chance kam hi lagta hai ab (We also live in state capital Patna but the condition here is worse than any village. No boy of this village would vote if electricity does not come here. The chances however seem to be grim as only three days are left for polling),” said Bhola.
Murarchak comes under Pataliputra constituency. Any candidate, who comes to the village for electioneering, is facing the same demand.
“Vote maangey ek baar aayega log, aau fir kabahoon dikhai nai dega. Baat saaf hai, hinya aaye ka jaroorat hai, jo bijli board ja ke concession dilwa de nayka transformer se, vote okre milega (They come here once to ask for vote and never return thereafter. Our verdict is clear. No need to come here, whoever would go to electricity board office and get the connection from the newly installed transformer in the village, would get the vote),” said Sunaina Devi, a homemaker and mother of four children.
So, has Murarchak never seen electricity? No, the village has been given supply from a transformer in the neighbouring Nargadda village. However, the lone transformer has been unable to bear the excessive load as the two villages expanded over past couple of years.
“The situation was still better till two- three years ago. However, the transformer could not bear the ever-increasing load as houses were built and people took electricity connection from it. As a result, the transformer keeps on tripping due to heavy load. Even if it is working then also the voltage is very low, not even 50 volts,” said Pappu Sharma, a shopkeeper at Murarchak.
Residents said it was around two months ago that a new transformer was installed in the village but the houses are still to be given connection from it.
“Do mahina ho gaya, naya transformer lage lekin abhi bhi purana connection se hi line aata hai. Neta log ghoom ke chale gaye, aap hi log bijli vibhag me bol ke connection dilwa dijiye (It has been two months since the new transformer was installed but our electric connection is still from the old line. The politicians made their rounds, now you only talk to the energy department and get the connection from the new transformer),” said Sushila Devi, another homemaker and mother of three. The villagers added that they have been regularly paying the electricity bill including the monthly rentals despite the poor voltage. “TV ban gaya hai showcase, manoranjan ke liye radio soon lete hain humlog (Television set has become a showcase item and we listen to radio for entertainment),” said Jitendra Chaudhary, another shopkeeper.
Jitendra claimed that though Yadavs are highest in the population of the village but the voting of the village is not dependent on caste terms. “Bijli hi mudda hai iss baar, 1000 log ka vote hai, matter karta hai (Electricity is the agenda here. We are 1000 voters here, it matters),” said Jitendra.