Misuse of ?power? can boomerang

THERE IS both good and bad news this week. Good news came from Kumaramangalam Birla in his quote, ?We will take a final decision on the 600 MW Roja power project within a fortnight?. Going by his track record, the decision should come in two weeks time and the project within the timeframe that he would announce thereafter. What else a power-starved state can ask for? Bad news came from Rae Bareli. A day after Sonia Gandhi?s resounding victory came the UP government?s decision of withdrawing 24-hour power supply to the VIP constituency.

india Updated: May 14, 2006 00:21 IST

THERE IS both good and bad news this week. Good news came from Kumaramangalam Birla in his quote, “We will take a final decision on the 600 MW Roja power project within a fortnight”. Going by his track record, the decision should come in two weeks time and the project within the timeframe that he would announce thereafter. What else a power-starved state can ask for? Bad news came from Rae Bareli. A day after Sonia Gandhi’s resounding victory came the UP government’s decision of withdrawing 24-hour power supply to the VIP constituency.

The government’s intentions are clear. It has sent a subtle message to the people of Rae Bareli that Sonia can’t deliver them what Mulayam can in the form of power, water, roads etc. Apparently the state government has the forthcoming assembly elections in mind. Also, the move smells of political vendetta -- snapping power supply only because their candidate lost deposit.

It further endorses the general belief that such decisions are not only short-lived but also politically motivated. The government wanted votes for Samajwadi Party in lieu of its decision of round-the-clock power supply to Rae Bareli. But isn’t it the fundamental duty of the government to meet basic needs like water and power, not only to Rae Bareli, but also the entire state?

Should government’s (not political parties) be so selective in their administrative decisions? After all the entire state gives them a mandate to rule, then how can they be so selective in disbursing largesse? Rae Bareli is a part of the same UP of which Saifai is.

Apparently politicians in power get so power drunk that they forget that they too would sit in the Opposition one day and not rule the state forever. Wouldn’t their constituents suffer the way Sonia’s Rae Bareli will be suffering now?

In fact these selective decisions over the years are responsible for the increasing regional imbalances in the state. One can understand if east is different from west in the country but why should they be poles apart within the same state? Only because their dialect is different!

This should certainly worry the politicians as the demand for bifurcation of UP stems from this malady only. The only class, which would suffer most from the division of Uttar Pradesh, is that of politicians. They would lose the political clout that they enjoy today in Delhi. UP with 80 MPs gives them a voice that smaller states lack. But in their quest for short-term gains, they tend to ignore the long-term pains.

More importantly selective development of the state also ends in wastage of funds as most of the schemes are either abandoned or poorly maintained by successive governments. Take for instance east Uttar Pradesh. There was a time when the government’s focus was on the development of east UP. Reason the UP chief minister came from Gorakhpur besides heavyweight politicians from Varanasi.

After Vir Bahadur Singh’s death and weakening of Kamlapati Tripathi family’s clout in Varanasi, east UP, too, lost its sheen. Slowly and slowly all schemes proposed by the then chief minister and seconded by the then prime ministers got lost in the reverberating sounds of guns. Mafia got active. What if Saifai got the same ill treatment from the coming governments? It won’t take more than a few years for the dust of an underdeveloped area to cloud the five-star Saifai of today.

It is high time for the politicians in power to change their thinking as well as style of functioning. Just as he cannot encourage as party president regional or caste imbalances through his decisions on ticket distribution or berth allocations, he as chief minister cannot push regional imbalances through his wrong administrative decisions.

He just has to remember that he is chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, not of east or west alone, or of Saifai or Rae Bareli. He has got a mandate to rule the state and he is answerable to the people of the entire state. Or else the division of UP would become a reality one day!

First Published: May 14, 2006 00:21 IST