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At Ramdevra, Raje’s Gaurav Yatra stop on Friday, people yearn for ‘meetha paani’

Residents of Ramdevra, be it farmers, traders or priests, have only one expectation from Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s public meeting. They want her to announce that ‘meetha paani’ (potable water) will soon be available in the village that is dependent on groundwater which is hard and unfit for consumption.

rajasthan elections 2018 Updated: Aug 24, 2018 08:17 IST
Manoj Ahuja
Manoj Ahuja
Hindustan Times, Ramdevra (Jaisalmer)
Ramdevra,Gaurav Yatra,Vasundhara Raje
Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, in a bid to retain power in the assembly elections later this year, has embarked upon Gaurav Yatra that will traverse more than 6,000 km during the 40-day tour of the state.(PTI/File Photo)

As one walks through the narrow road leading to Baba Ramdev temple in Ramdevra village, about 12 km from Pokhran, there are subtle signs that chief minister Vasundhara Raje will be visiting the place on Friday, soon after launching the second leg of Gaurav Yatra from Jaisalmer.

The road has been patched up and demarcated, and small-time traders offering a variety of wares at the makeshift market on both sides of the road have been warned against encroachment.

The residents of Ramdevra, be it farmers, traders or priests of the temple, have only one expectation from the chief minister’s public meeting that will follow the temple visit. They want Raje to announce that ‘meetha paani’ (potable water) will soon be available in the village that is dependent on groundwater that is hard and unfit for consumption.

“The pipelines have been laid, but there is no water supply. We want the chief minister to announce that potable water will soon be available in our village,” said Nathuram Bishnoi, a farmer, between sips of tea at Baba Ramdev Dhaba, a stone’s throw away from the temple.

A priest at the temple, Pyarelal Sharma, echoed his sentiment. “Bas meetha paani mil jaye, baki sab kuch bijli, sadak to hai (we only want potable water, rest including electricity and road are already there).

The temple marks eternal resting place of Baba Ramdev, a saint of the 14th century who is regarded by Hindus as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, while Muslims venerate him as Ramshah Pir. Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner constructed a temple around the samadhi in 1931. The complex also houses the tombs of five Muslim Pirs.

According to the 2011 census, the village has a population of 1499, but during the 40-day fair in August and September, the population swells to more than 10,000 when hundreds of devotees throng the temple from all over the country.

Also read: Second leg of Raje’s Gaurav Yatra, Congress’ Sankalp Rally to kick off today

Another priest, who did not wish to be named, said politicians across party lines visit the temple but not much has been done for the development of the village apart from the road connectivity.

“The politicians come to visit the temple and our village is in news for a day. We have seen Raje, Ashok Gehlot, ministers and MLAs of both Congress and BJP come here to seek the Baba’s blessings. This time, I hope we will get the water supply and some better lodging facility for hundreds of devotees that throng the temple during the fair.”

A shopkeeper, Magga Ram, was not too enthused about the rally. “I can’t leave my shop. My only hope is that there will be brisk business tomorrow (Friday) when she comes. I came to know two days ago that the CM was coming when I saw patch-up work at the road leading from Pokharan,” he said.

Raje will be welcomed by the temple management on her arrival around 1.30 pm on Friday and presented with a shawl. She will also pay her respects at the samadhi of Ramshah Pir, temple manager Arun Changani said.

Raje, in a bid to retain power in the assembly elections later this year, has embarked upon Gaurav Yatra that will traverse more than 6,000 km during the 40-day tour of the state.

The Rajasthan election is being seen as a litmus test for the ruling BJP after its defeat in by-elections in two parliamentary seats and one assembly constituency earlier this year.

At the temple, the devotees have little idea that CM is coming. “The only problem we are facing is that of toilets and we have to relieve ourselves out in open,” said Alok Khandelwal who had come from Madhya Pradesh on motorcycle.

Another farmer, Sonaram Bishnoi, said not much has changed since the last visit of the chief minister to the temple in 2017. “I will attend the rally only out of curiosity. Let’s see what she has to say. We need water for irrigation also as we are entirely dependent on monsoon and there are seasons when we are not able to sow any crop due to lack of water,” he said.

At a location about 1 km away from the temple, a banner of the chief minister announcing farm loan waiver has been put up near a makeshift dome where the public meeting will be held.

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 00:25 IST