If good roads are signs of progress and development is the key to electoral success, Shivraj Singh Chouhan would have drawn a blank from voters in villages along an 80-km stretch from Vidisha to Kurvai. Traveling on four-wheelers on this stretch is like passing through a veritable hell.
But Chouhan has won five times from Vidisha and the road seemed to have never mattered for the electorate. Several BJP workers at Devkhajuri village along the road made this amply clear. To them it was more important that Shivraj bhaiya knew them personally. They cheerfully recalled how he had walked on those dusty streets with them on several occasions. And nothing tells better the irony of the VIP constituency.
When we embarked on the road to Kurvai from Vidisha (or rather an endless heap of boulders of various sizes), little did we realise what lay ahead. We ignored warnings, thinking roads won’t be so bad in the CM’s constituency that a vehicle cannot move. We were to be proved wrong soon.
We were going to cover Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh and Chief Minister’s election meetings on Wednesday. First to warn about the road was taxi owner Imran. When we insisted he reluctantly relented, the day being Id. We realised his graciousness in allowing his new Toyota Qualis taxi to risk irreparable damage only when we had travelled a few kms.
Former Congress MP Pratap Bhanu Sharma had also sounded similar warning. “The 80 km long journey would take no less than four hours,” he told us while seeing off at Vidisha.
Barely a few km on the road, the ordeal began. Whatever little traces of road we had negotiated so far disappeared. Now huge boulders appeared all around. We soon realised the futility of catching up any of the meetings we were assigned to cover.
The driver straightened himself on the seat and painstakingly moved the steering to save the taxi from hitting the boulders.
The driver, who had been negotiating through the boulders, broke his silence. He narrated how School Education Minister Narottam Mishra was so terrified during his travel to Kurvai a couple of days ago that he left the taxi and caught a train for Bhopal from Ganj Basoda.
When we looked at our watch, we found that in the past 45 minutes we had only been able to move 14 km. Ganjbasoda was still 40 km away. And Kurvai was a long way to go.
This was the story of our aborted trip to Kurvai. The experience was enough to correct the notion that only Digvijay Singh neglected roads. Three years have elapsed since BJP came to power with tall claims about connecting each village with splendid roads.