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Smile-&-sulk time for Champaran

The swearing-in ceremony of the Narendra Modi government in Delhi on Monday has thrown up two diverse aspects about the future of East Champaran and West Champaran — one of hope, the other of despair.

The high-profile Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who defeated former chief minister Rabri Devi in Saran and was expected to be included in the new ministry, has been left out in the cold. On the other hand, the five-term low-profile MP of Motihari Radha Mohan Singh finally got his due and was made a cabinet minister.

The development has triggered hope and disappointment in the two constituencies.

Motihari residents have already drawn up a wishlist for the new Union agriculture minister — development in agriculture sector, new initiatives for restoration of sugar industries in Champaran and setting up of a Central University of Bihar (CUB) in the name of Mahatma Gandhi in Motihari.

“Being the Motihari MP and the new agriculture minister of the country, Radha Mohan Singh is expected to help Champaran in achieving the national scale of development in agriculture production by strengthening the network of canals and rivulets in the composite Champaran district,” said R.P. Sharma, a professor.

“Apart from that, sugarcane growers have pinned high hopes on the revival of most sugar mills in Champaran, which have been sick for the past two decades and spoilt the rural economy. We also expect the minister to take sincere steps so that Rs 3.5 crore lying idle at the district-level could be utilised at the earliest towards acquisition of land for a CUB at Motihari,” added Sharma.

“I have also submitted a charter of demands in the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, stating that the process towards setting up a CUB in the name of Mahatma Gandhi and a medical college at Motihari must begin before the nation goes to observe the centenary year of Satyagraha in 2016,” Motihari MLA Pramod Kumar told The Telegraph.

Promotion of tourism at Kesaria, which has the tallest Buddha Stupa, is also on the wishlist.

The residents’ aspirations are high too. Homemaker Anju Dhingra hopes that Radha Mohan Singh would help stabilise the prices of daily essentials, including vegetables, and improve the city look and take action to solve its traffic mess.

Farmer Sanjay Kaushik said Radha Mohan’s appointment has raised hopes among sugarcane growers, who are yet to get several crores of rupees in dues against supply of sugarcane to the mills.

The economy of this region of the state mainly depends on the sugarcane-based agriculture. Of around nine sugar factories once functional in the undivided Champaran district, the number has reduced to less than half.

Litchi farmers also hope that proper processing units would be set up, which would help them market their product well and fetch them better revenue.

The picture in Saran reflects a sense of disappointment. BJP MP Rudy, the civil aviation minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, who earned the title of best aviation minister globally, has been grounded in the Modi regime much to the despair of his supporters.

Rudy was considered a sure candidate for a ministerial berth.

Even during campaigns, leaders such as Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj had appealed people to vote for Rudy with the assurance that if elected, the former minister would be rewarded with some responsible post. Shahnawaz Hussain had gone a step further and had declared that Rudy would be made a minister and prove to be a pride for Saran.

During his public meetings, Rudy used to ask people that if elected, what would he become. The crowd would reply “minister” in unison. Which minister, then Rudy would ask. “Railway”, the crowed would reply.

However, a message on May 25 from Rudy to the people of Saran clarified that he would look after the organisation.

His omission from the ministry has drawn mixed reactions from his supporters and some persons who voted for the BJP for change.

Raman Kumar, a private teacher from Amnour, gloomily said: “The decision to cold-shoulder Rudy is politically wrong considering his capability, experience and dynamism. The people of Saran are feeling cheated.”

Vipin Singh (55), a social worker of Paharpur village under Amnour police station, said: “Rudyji should have been inducted. Justice has not been meted out to him. Kedar Rai (60) who runs a school at Amnour said their hopes have been watered. We are grieved. Rudyji could have done a lot for Saran in the capacity of a minister.”

Businessman Ajay Jaiswal of Amnour, Dr Satyendra Kumar of Gosib Amnour, advocate Ramesh Kumar Singh of Khori Pakar village adjacent to Rudy’s house, homemaker Usha Singh all echoed the same. Jaiswal said: “Rudyji was supposed to undertake many works such as the reopening of Marhaura sugar mill.

For the record, Saran was represented by Lalu Prasad who is also a former railway minister. Rudy defeated his wife Rabri Devi. Giving a ministerial berth to Rudy would have eclipsed the Opposition moves in future.”