With two representatives in Lok Sabha and three in the assembly, Titidanga, a hamlet of just 2,000 people in West Bengal, could be the epitome of India’s democracy — and all that’s wrong with it. This surfeit of lawmakers, which includes finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, has been insufficient to provide the village the most basic of amenities, be it metalled road, potable water or a health centre.
All five deep tubewells of this village are non-functional. And with no proper roads, one has to trudge along the seven-km bank of Bramhani river, which runs through the village, to even get there.
“We’ve to dig the riverbed to collect drinking water in summer. During monsoon we have to stay on the branches of trees as our homes remain inundated,” said 71-year-old Rahamat Ali, a resident of the village, around 320 km north of Kolkata. A few years back, a teenager died as he fell into the Bramhani when he was returning home from a nearby market. “The riverbank is merely two feet wide, insufficient for even two bicycles to move side by side,” asked Adori Bibi, a homemaker.
Titidanga has a rather unusual administrative map. The village falls under three assembly constituencies —Hasan, Nalhati and Nabagram — and two parliamentary constituencies.
“I have tried to deliver projects in my constituency. But I cannot claim that I have been successful everywhere. I hope to implement projects in the village that residents of the other two constituencies can also benefit from,” said Dipak Chatterjee, Forward Bloc MLA of Nalhati.
As the state gets ready to go to polls next month, cynicism still rules the village and the villagers are a disillusioned lot.
“Vote asbe aar jabe... amra eki thakbo…(Elections will come, elections will, but our misery goes on for ever),” said Latika Khatun, a homemaker of the village.
“We are used to bagful of promises before the polls. This year too leaders, or their representatives, will come to seek our votes, but our condition will not change at all,” said Rafatulla Sheikh.