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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Rain bares real poll issue on Arjun turf: Barrackpore residents complain of drainage issues

Local people showed this correspondent how inundation after the downpour was an all-pervasive phenomenon, not sparing the area around the office of Singh’s political opponent Somenath Shyam, Trinamool’s Jagatdal MLA

Kinsuk Basu Barrackpore Published 21.05.24, 11:55 AM
A central force jawan gets on a Toto on the waterlogged Jagatdal Behara Para Road under the Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency on Monday to reach a polling booth.

A central force jawan gets on a Toto on the waterlogged Jagatdal Behara Para Road under the Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency on Monday to reach a polling booth. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha

Joblessness, inflation, the Ram temple in Ayodhya and Trinamool’s Lakshmir Bhandar scheme had so far ruled the political discourse in Jagatdal’s Behara Para, the backyard of Barrackpore sitting MP Arjun Singh’s house, some 41km north of Calcutta.

A sharp shower on Monday afternoon lasting 40 minutes swept away all these issues in the area dotted with hutments, as the rain ended up inundating a concrete road winding its way to Hindi Pathshala and Balika Vidyalaya, the two polling booths in Behara Para.

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Water began gushing into hutments on either side of the road and booth-bound people waded their way in mucky water to exercise their democratic right on Sunday.

“Don’t look at the water level. It will continue to rise, inundate the area, and force women to shut the main doors to stop water from gushing inside their homes. That’s how it has been for several years now. For several elections now,” said Amjad Khan, a former jute mill worker.

A few others of Behara Para gathered around Khan under a tin shed. Polling booths were only a few yards away, but rainwater had made them inaccessible.

“Over the years we have been demanding proper drainage in our area. The drains are supposed to carry the water to the main road. They don’t. Bhaiya is aware of our plight. But he is busy fighting for the post of MP,” said Ashok Shaw.

To most in this area, Arjun Singh is the Bhaiya in their backyard in Jagaddal.

The rains kept lashing the area, adding to the torment of all. Outside the polling booths, gun-toting central force jawans began looking for umbrellas. Candles were lit inside the booths as the power snapped.

The crowd around Khan took shelter inside Ashok’s grocery shop.

“Two big grounds in the neighbourhood used to serve as reservoirs of rainwater. Now, buildings have started coming up. Come monsoon and students of these two primary schools suffer,” said Roshni Khatun, a homemaker.

“No new higher secondary school has come up in this area in the last few years. We have stopped complaining. There aren’t any takers for our grievances,” added the woman, whose excitement on voting day got dampened by rain and waterlogging.

Local people showed this correspondent how inundation after the downpour was an all-pervasive phenomenon, not sparing the area around the office of Singh’s political opponent Somenath Shyam, Trinamool’s Jagatdal MLA.

The buzz in the area has been that Shyam’s stiff
opposition to Singh was the reason behind Trinamool leadership overlooking the
sitting MP, who joined Bengal’s ruling party after winning as a BJP nominee. The heartburn took Singh back to the saffron camp and he got the coveted ticket.

“Shyam’s bosses listened to him and denied Bhaiya the ticket.... But neither Shyam nor Bhaiya ever took note of waterlogging in our area,” chorused a band of youths sitting at a tea stall near Shyam’s office.

Opposite Shyam’s office, a covered area was converted into a grand kitchen on voting day and the smell of biryani wafted in the air.

“The polls will be over,
we will get biryani.... The leaders will forget about
waterlogging,” said a Trinamool worker.

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