Feel-good in Laloo?s village
About 35 km from Gopalganj, they are a study in contrast when compared to other villages of Bihar.
Unlike Phulwaria, no other village can boast of a helipad. While the airport building of Gopalganj is in a dilapidated state, the helipad at Phulwaria is well maintained, having barbed fence all around.
The village has all the qualities of a mini-township. You name it and the village has it. A post-office, computerised branch of the State Bank of India, a 30-bed referral hospital named after Laloo's mother late Maracharia Devi, a power sub-station to ensure adequate supply to the VIP village, a middle school, a police station, residential accommodation for policemen, street lights powered by solar cells and cemented roads, besides a huge temple coming up, courtesy Sahara India.
While other towns and cities of Bihar fail to get uninterrupted power supply even for 10 hours a day, this ‘raja ka village’, on an average, gets electricity for at least 12 hours daily. The referral hospital gets regular supply of medicine. A smarak (memorial) is also coming up in the memory of Laloo's mother. Laloo's own house and that of his brother Gulab Roy are two-storeyed buildings and almost 90 per cent of the houses in the village are pucca ones.
The lone bank of the village has a total deposit of Rs 7.5 crore. Incidentally, the villagers have no source of livelihood other than agriculture. The bank got a deposit of Rs 1.49 crore during the last 10 months alone and gave away Rs 39 lakh as loans last year. A sub-registry office is also coming up in the village.
In contrast to her husband's village, chief minister Rabri Devi's maika at Salar Kalan, is yet to get the same attention as Phulwaria. A huge gate, Gokul Dwar, named after Rabri's grandfather, welcomes the visitors into the village. The entire village has cemented roads. In comparison to Phulwaria, less than 150 houses have electricity connection. While a few houses have TV sets, Rabri's own house has a dish antenna.
The two villages may be shining, but the people have failed to take the 'development' in their stride. “What is the use of a helipad for us. He (Laloo) hasn't provided employment to us,” said Baleshwar Chowdhary. “He has given employment to every member of his family, but what has he done for the rest of the villagers?” asked a resident of Phulwaria, on condition of anonymity. Residents of Salar Kalan are equally angry.
“What has Rabri done for the village? Only a select few have got employment, some roads have been constructed, but there is no power in the village. Rabri's family members have captured barren land and even the portion of the bazaar where once the haats (village market) used to be held,” said Hansnath.
“What is the use of a helipad for us? Laloo hasn't provided employment to us”
A Phulwaria resident