In the run-up to the 2003 Vidhan Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh, BJP leader Uma Bharati had launched a blistering attack on the then Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh. Her main focus was Digvijaya’s failure on the front of “Bijli-Sadak- Pani”. She was declared as the chief ministerial candidate by the BJP.
Her attack was so fierce that she succeeded in overthrowing the ten-year rule of Digvijaya Singh. Incidentally, Digvijay Singh was the first politician who completed 10 years as the chief minister of the state. Prior to Digvijay, only K. N. Katju and Arjun Singh could complete their full term of five years as the Chief Minister.
There is no doubt that during the second term of Digvijaya Singh, things were very bad as far roads and electricity were concerned. The water supply situation was also not very happy. Though Uma Bharti succeeded in overthrowing the Congress, but she could not get the opportunity to undo the failures of Digvijaya Singh regime.
But, subsequently, particularly during the stewardship of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, considerable improvement has taken place as far electricity and roads are concerned. There are no frequent interruptions in the supply of electricity. Frequent interruptions did great damage to the industry and agriculture sectors. The worst affected were the students during examination. Similarly, most of the roads are in a good condition.
During Digvijaya Singh’s rule it would take eight to ten hours to reach Sagar from Bhopal. At present, one covers this distance in about three hours. Despite remarkable improvement in highways – both national and state – there is still a big gap as far as connecting villages to the main roads is concerned. I remember that while addressing the first session of the MP Vidhan Sabha, the then Governor had assured that the government is determined to connect all the villages of the state with the main pucca roads. Regrettably, this assurance has not been fulfilled yet.
Besides further improvements in road connectivity, several important tasks are awaiting the government which will take over the reins of the state administration after the November elections. An overwhelming part of our state depends on the government for civic amenities. Surveys conducted from time to time indicate that several villages do not have schools and if schools are there, they do not have the required number of teachers.
Recently, this writer attended a Children’s Parliament. Resource persons repeatedly sought information whether their classes are held regularly? Whether the teachers attend school? Most of the children replied “Our teachers come when bus comes and leave when the bus leaves”.
Lack of toilets in schools is a common complaint. If a school has toilets, it does not have separate toilet for girls. A survey revealed that most of girls dropped out after class six or seven because the school they were studying did not have separate toilets for them. Thus, school educations is in pitiable state. Even the Right to Education Act could not make desired changes. Midday meal scheme could have worked wonders if it was properly implemented.
One of the major faults with midday meals scheme is that it has sown the seeds of discrimination in schools because Dalit students are asked to sit in a separate row when meals are served. The condition of educational facilities are far from satisfactory in tribal areas. The position with regard to health facilities is worse. Still, many villages do not have primary health centers. Wherever primary health centres do exist, they lack health personnel, including doctors.
Most of the doctors are not willing to serve in the rural areas. Health centres lack basic facilities. Ambulances are rarely available for rural population Janani Express was introduced to carry expectant mothers to hospitals. But the scheme is not functioning properly. Let us hope the legislators whom we will elect on November 28 will realise their duty and keep a sharp eye on the implementation of welfare schemes. (The writer is senior journalist)