VARANASI: True to its name, Bhikaripur (which crudely translates to the land of the poor) is deprived of even basic amenities. Toilets and electricity are luxuries for the 3,000 villagers of Bhikaripur, who live in extreme poverty, just 20 km away from Varanasi. Deen Dayal’s face lights up, when asked for the route to Jayapur from Bhikaripur. “Modi ka gaon?” (Are you asking for Modi’s village?) He quips, stepping out of his tea stall. Go straight, the point where good road begins is Modi’s village, he says.
Why is Bhikaripur so backward? The lone customer in the tea stall has the answer. “Jayapur has Modi’s aashirwaad. We don’t.” The villagers were right. The slushy road with potholes suddenly turns smooth, indicating our entry into the VIP-class village - Jayapur. Located in the Sevapuri Assembly segment, Jayapur was adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.
Like an oasis in a desert, the village stands out from surrounding ones. Jayapur is the only village in the region to have a whole host of amenities. Two bank branches, bio-toilets, solar-powered streetlights and to top it all, a wi-fi hotspot, are some of the striking features of this village.
Jayapur is the only village in the region to have two bank branches - the Syndicate Bank and the Union Bank of India. What’s more, the banks also educate villagers about the various schemes of the Centre.
Having two banks in Jayapur is a dream come true, say villagers. “Almost all of us have opened bank accounts,” says Kusum. Her husband nods in agreement.
However, the biggest eye-catcher is not the banks. Jayapur is equipped with around 25 bio-toilets, serving every family in the village. “We did not have toilets earlier. Just like people in the nearby villages our women and children were forced to defecate in the open,” says Raghubeer, a farmer. “Now, we have bio-toilets that are easy to maintain and saves us the embarrassment.”
Asked whether these amenities make people of other villages jealous, Raghubeer says with a smile, ‘Woh toh hai’ (That is there). According to locals, around 25 bio-toilets have come up in the village, which has nearly 900 families. And there’s more coming.
Talking about Narendra Modi’s village needs a special mention of the hi-tech facilities. While no village in Uttar Pradesh can imagine being wi-fi enabled, Jayapur is soon to get an exclusive wi-fi zone.
A kiosk which will serve as a wi-fi zone has already come up right at the centre of the village and it will be operational in the next few days, say villagers. About a month ago, BSNL has erected a tower in the village.
Another catchy feature in Modi ka gaon is the solar street lighting facility at many places in the village. About 145 solar street lights have already been installed and there is also a proposal for a solar pump in the village.
“We are very happy with the way our lives have changed in the last six months. Despite being in Delhi, Modiji has ensured that all facilities reach us. We are hearing that he is also planning to have some industries set up here, which will generate employment,’’ says Narayan.
Unlike other villages, one cannot come across garbage in this village as cleaning is done not only by the authorities but by the villagers themselves who take Modi’s swachh Bharat call seriously. However, power supply is something the locals continue to complaint about. “Sometimes, we don’t have power for five to six hours at a stretch. We will take up this issue with any minister who visits this village,’’ he says.
The picture-perfect Jayapur though has its own share of politics between the BJP and the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) government. While a majority were all praise for the Centre, few workers of the SP are allegedly creating hurdles.
“A few days ago, they (SP workers) damaged our bio-toilets and we complained to the the village head. The District Magistrate has also been petitioned,’’ said Gauri, a local. According to him, SP workers are trying to create hurdles so that BJP does not get credit for the development.
However, when asked, a local SP worker, Ghanshyam denies any such incident and says that BJP has been making false allegations for deriving political mileage. With Uttar Pradesh going to elections in 2017, Modi ka gaon can expect more politics in the days to come.
When contacted, Varanasi District Magistrate Vijay Kiran Anand refused to comment on whether there was a political slugfest between the BJP and the Samajwadi Party.