Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi’s decision to adopt Singhpur village, described as a developer’s paradise for its real estate worth, has raised eyebrows, with critics saying the place is already well-developed.
At first glance, Singhpur’s only problem seems to be a problem of plenty. Surrounded by high-rise buildings, a bigha of land in the village around 15 kilometres from Kanpur, fetches somewhere around Rs 1 crore. It has a nursery teachers’ training centre, a primary and a public school, a community health centre and a cooperative society.
Village headman Chedi Singh called it a “chaman (paradise)” that needed a marriage hall, an inter college and a plan to end water-logging. “I think Singhpur will progress more after Joshiji’s decision,” he said.
Opposition leaders questioned Joshi’s decision to pick what they said was a developed area under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheme of every parliamentarian adopting a backward rural place and turning it into a model village.
“What is the point in adopting Singhpur,” said Samajwadi Party general secretary Mohammad Hasan Roomi. “It is well-developed with problems that are no different than the ones in the civic wards.”
The village is not a part of Joshi’s constituency Kanpur, but comes under Akbarpur, represented by the BJP’s Devendra Singh Bholey. Singh picked it from a list of 38 villages that were given to him as Kanpur does not have a gram panchayat.
Sanjeev Tripathi of the Congress said there were many villages in Akbarpur that badly needed attention, before adding, “He could have picked any one of them.”
But the BJP defended Joshi’s decision, saying the place has its own problems. “The entire village gets marooned because of water-logging, it is a terrible situation for its inhabitants,” said BJP leader Surendra Maithani.
Residents complained about overflowing drains to the BJP leader when he went to visit them this week. “Choked drains are what we have in the monsoon. This is the biggest problem I want Joshiji to solve,” said Kanchan Gupta, who works at Rama Medical College and owns a house with a small lawn.
Other people, like MA final-year student Poonam, want Joshi to help solve unemployment that is forcing people to turn to liquor, which is easily available. Singhpur has a model wine shop, three beer shops and a country-made liquor shop that ensures the village never runs out of alcohol.
It does not help the lone ATM is located at the very entrance of the village. The women want Joshi to look into the issue, saying it gives the men easy access to buy liquor.
Singhpur has a population of 7,000 and its share of poverty that can be seen in the thatched houses that line up a section of the village.
Living in one such house, with a worn-out blanket wrapped around him, 75-year-old Babulal said he expected big things from Joshi. “I want him to perform a miracle and help us get rid of our poverty,” he said.