Union power minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday announced a project to bring electricity to 36 diara villages or sand-filled islands along the Ganga between Patna and Saran districts, which are known to be strongholds of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Powerless even in the 21st century, the location of these villages is a serious challenge for electrical engineers to sink poles and connect wires.
But the NDA government at the Centre has decided to overcome all hurdles through a statewide Rs 5,827-crore project under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojna to cover 11,375 households in the initial phase.
The pilot phase covers Danapur, barely 3km away from Patna, and Chapra assembly constituencies. These have a population of over 2 lakh, half of them Yadavs who have supported Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi in the past.
Union minister Ram Kripal Yadav, a former close aide of the RJD chief till he left for the BJP, and another Central minister, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, represent these areas in Parliament.
Rudy said the diara areas had been with Prasad for the past 30 years but he had betrayed them. However, he clarified that the new project has nothing to with politics. “There is no politics of vote involved, only development which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has initiated.”
Development in the diara areas has been ignored by successive governments, even when the BJP was part of the state’s ruling coalition with the JD(U) for eight years since 2005.
“We are all to be blamed. The Congress ignored it for 35 years and Lalu Prasad for 15 years. Right from (former chief ministers) Jagannath Mishra, Chhote Saheb (Satyendra Narayan Sinha) and Nitish Kumar, no one did anything. Now that we have initiated, the people of the area will remember Ram Kripal Yadav, Piyush Goyal, me and Narendra Modi when electricity reaches their households,” Rudy said.
Development projects are being announced almost every day after Prime Minister Modi declared a 1.25 lakh crore special package for the poll-bound state where the BJP and the grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress are locked in a bitter do-or-die battle.