On Sunday afternoon, during the last leg of his Jaipur visit, BJP national president Amit Shah had a lunch date at a Dalit home in a non-descript locality in Jaipur named Sushilpura.
By all accounts, he relished dishes such as bhindi, gatte ki sabzi and daal along with chapaati and chawal. There was sweet dish too in the form of suji ka halwa. Nothing unusual about it given the recent penchant of BJP leaders for having lunch at Dalit homes.
Except that it seems to have left a bad taste in the mouth of residents of this otherwise unremarkable locality. Local colony residents India Today spoke to decried that the colony was grappling with scores of problems. But what was done was overnight patch work, none of which, they believed, will be followed by any real development work that can benefit the residents of this area.
They claimed Shah and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje having lunch at someone's residence will not benefit this otherwise forsaken locality of Jaipur.
"After several years, this kind of cleaning that happened, had not happened till today. That is there, if (he) comes tomorrow as well, then there will be cleaning tomorrow as well. Cleaning is an issue. Cleaning does not happen here. Neither is our colony Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) approved, nor is there anything else. There is problem of electricity, of water. This VVIP movement came, that is why this cleaning happened... What will happen by eating food? The question is of development. Modiji is talking about development. Development is not happening. Development happened today. Tomorrow once again we will live in an unhygienic environment. What will happen by eating food? This is politics, there is no point in doing politics,” rued a resident.
The residents pointed out that much of the sprucing up - from the patch work done on the road outside the residence of Ramesh Pachariya, the Dalit worker and lunch host, to lifting of garbage on the roads to the superficial cleaning of sewer lines – was done in the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.
"The roads are in disarray, the sewer water is running. We are so troubled. There is no way to commute, no guests come to meet us. They leave soon, no one stays with us. This sewer has just been made... The soil is still lying there. No one picks it up. No one cleans the roads, we ourselves do it and no one comes. We have been asking for the garbage vehicle to come in our area as well but they say we will come from tomorrow, day after," a visibly annoyed woman said.
Arun Chaturvedi allegedly visited the locality for the first time in four years, ever since he was voted for by the people.
On the road outside Pachariya's residence, the patchwork at different places is still quite conspicuous by its presence. Residents say municipal workers swooped in overnight for the work. Why? To ensure that the cavalcade of Shah and Raje had a smooth run, that there were no ugly sightings of garbage or of sewer lines displaying their contents. The lines got covered, garbage lifted, roads cleaned. And it happened as workers toiled all night – in fact the civic administration laid siege to the locality and repair work was carried out at breakneck speed.
There were claims of high handedness by the authorities as well. Adding to the sentiment of being left alone and at no one's mercy.
"We were stopped before hand and were told that if you come forward, you will get beaten by sticks. This is what they were doing. They have been troubling us since morning. They were not even allowing vehicles to stand here and put up barriers. The municipal officials came in the night. No development of this area will happen, I am telling you. In four years, ever since the BJP came to power in the state in 2013, MLA Arun Chaturvediji has come for the first time. Even Lahotiji (the mayor) had come in the night and he went away in the morning," a young but seemingly frustrated boy said.
Residents of Sushilpura, arguably one of the oldest localities of Jaipur, rue that till date the colony has not been approved by the JDA and that there are several ills that plague the area. The mess has been augmented by the rainy season. No one from the authorities' side seems willing to listen to complaints. Obviously, the residents are only too desperate to communicate their ordeal to anyone who is willing to lend an ear.
"This colony of ours is 100 years old. It’s right in the middle of Jaipur,” said another vocal resident of Sushilpura.
"Chaturvedi has done no work in four years,” another added.
India Today sought local MLA and social justice minister Chaturvedi. And this is what he said: “I told you right now sewer lines, roads, boring have been installed worth Rs 50 lakh and if you want, you can check this, in the records and on the ground as well. The process is going on for the rest. Work which did not happen in the last 8-10 years has been done. These people from the locality there, ask them.”
However, what the people of the area had to say was at variance with his claims. By a long shot. Sample what the family of Pachariya reluctantly revealed.
"This patch work happened in the night itself. Cleaning too happened at night. Some garbage was there. People are troubled. They have even asked the administration but no one is listening. In the rest of Sushilpura area, roads have been made, but we do not know why it hasn’t been made in this area, for whatever reason, politics or otherwise,” Vinod Pachariya said.
Mona, Ramesh's sister, confirmed his words: "It’s true that the road must be built and cleanliness work happened at night only. The garbage vehicle comes but takes trash from homes, not from the roads. The garbage remains on the roads. Even the roads are not repaired otherwise."