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Tale of two Badal villages

india Updated: Jan 30, 2012 02:04 IST
Prabhjit Singh

In the native village of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, there is an old-age home run by the Badals under the Ch Devi Lal Trust. It paints a pretty picture; only it's not representative of the village itself.

While elders at the plush 'home' live in comfort — playing cards, walking or exercising in the lush-green lawns — Badal village is full of poor elders, who say the home is out of bounds for them. True, most of its 30-odd residents belong to surrounding or far-flung villages.

"This is a locality of the poor," a village boy told HT.

Surjit Kaur, 62, got a blue card for subsidised wheat and pulses recently. "The card has Badal's photograph, but we have been told that the ration will come only after a few days."

As she had spent all her money on flour, Kaur was not left with any to buy vegetables.

Kaur has also not received her monthly old-age pension of R250 since Diwali. To make matters worse, her married son is jobless. But the despair has not shaken her determination to vote on January 30.

An elderly widow, Murti, 65, whose house collapsed during last year's monsoon, wonders whether vote seekers will promise to rebuild her home

Ask a group of old men if they had raised the issues with candidates during the panchayat or assembly elections, one of them replies: "Who would dare to confront the Badals?"

Any difference between Akali and non-Akali Badals? The answer is: "They are all the same."

"My business is suffering as most of my customers owe me large sums of money," said village grocer Lal Singh.

Jagga Singh and Nirmal Singh, both septuagenarians, have not received their pension for months. "I am under debt of nearly R1 lakh," said Nirmal.

According to an official of the rural development and panchayat department, none of the 353 old-age pension beneficiaries in the village had been paid after August. The village has 112 widow and disability pension beneficiaries, who are also awaiting payments.

Being residents of the CM's village, they ought to be a privileged lot. But some villagers are more equal than others.