Jagdishpur (Amethi), May 3: Five years after Congress president Rahul Gandhi adopted Amethi’s Jagdishpur village under the ‘Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’ (SAGY), residents say they have been waiting for him to visit and get the development work started.
The last time Gandhi visited Jagdishpur was in December 2014, when he adopted the village.
“Rahul Gandhi visited only once in 2014. At that time, every tree, pole and road was measured with a view to fill the gaps in development. But nothing has been done ever since,” a villager, Kesri Nandan, said.
Under SAGY, members of Parliament are required to choose a village in their constituency and develop it as a model village.
In this aspiring model village, roads are rutted, there is no piped water supply, the only school is found wanting on many fronts and healthcare facilities are dismal.
After a long wait for Gandhi to return, Jitendra Yadav, the village head, recently joined the BJP in the hope of a brighter future for Jagdishpur.
Yadav said he quit the Congress some months ago after being slighted by the party leadership.
“Our village has stood by the Gandhi family for decades. We have played a role in ensuring Rahul Gandhi’s repeated victories from here. But when we went to see him with a request for a community hall, he didn’t even spare 30 seconds for us. Our request was dumped in a bag,” Yadav told PTI.
He said he left the Congress out of sheer frustration.
“If our MP can’t listen to the people of one village, how will he listen to the people of the entire segment? He may be the Congress president but he has not been people’s president,” he said.
Gandhi acts like a “king”, but people won’t take it anymore, he added.
Many locals here feel that the Congress president could have done much better as an MP.
Villagers pointed out that though a water tank was sanctioned recently to provide clean drinking water to people, their taps are still running dry.
“Rahul Gandhi should have done something for us. We had high hopes from him. But he has not spent anything from his MPLADS (Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) fund here. We are bearing the brunt of wild animals destroying our crops and no one helps us,” said Prema, a housewife.
Ram Pher, a mechanic, laments the lack of potable water and jobs.
Anguished with Gandhi, many villagers are turning to BJP candidate from Amethi and Union minister Smriti Irani for help.
A village elder, Virender Shankar Mishra said Irani continued to visit Jagdishpur even after losing to Gandhi in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“While Rahul Gandhi abandoned his adopted village despite winning from Amethi in 2014, Smriti Irani kept visiting us. Last time when Rahul Gandhi’s winning margins reduced, it was a warning to him, but clearly he did not pay heed,” he said.
The villagers said they have benefitted from the BJP government’s initiatives like Ujjwala scheme — under which free cooking gas connections have been provided to poor, and Ayushmaan Bharat — a health insurance scheme.
“The BJP’s schemes have benefitted a lot of people here. We had thought the face of our village will transform after Rahul Gandhi adopted it but we have been left in the lurch,” said another villager, Brij Mohan Lal.
“In fact we are facing a double whammy. The local MP does nothing and the state administration also does not help, saying the village will be funded from central sources. It is a zero-sum game for us,” he added.
Another local Shahshank Tripathi feels that Jagdishpur deserves better.
“Literacy rate here is just 39 per cent. There was a time when people used to vote for Gandhis out of loyalty for them. But that time is gone,” a local, Shashank Tripathi, said.
“Now people won’t vote on the basis of what Priyanka Gandhi Vadra says or how she looks and whether she resembles her grandmother Indira Gandhi. People will vote on the basis of how much work anyone does or has done,” he said.
Congress’s Amethi unit president Yogendra Mishra defended Gandhi, saying the government did not provide separate funds for SAGY.
“The government should have provided separate funds for this scheme and Rahul ji had said this on the first day itself. How can an MP spend all the money from MPLAD scheme on just one village and neglect the others in the constituency?” he said, adding that there are 877 villages under Amethi constituency.
Amethi, which has traditionally been a Congress bastion, goes to polls on May 6.
Gandhi, who has held the seat since 2004, is seeking re-election for the fourth time. (PTI)