BHOPAL: Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah’s lunch at a tribal family house in Bhopal on Sunday turned out to be a rude reality check for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of an open-defecation free (ODF) India.
On the last day of his three-days tour to Bhopal, Shah along with senior party leaders, including Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, had lunch at the thatched house of a tribal, Kamalsingh Uike, in Sevaniya Gond village in Bhopal.
However, after the lunch, 39-year-old daily wage labourer Kamalsingh Uike told journalists that his family had no toilet. Uike said, “Five-six months ago, local authorities conducted a survey for toilets in the village during which I applied for a toilet, but my family is yet to get one.”
Uike’s sentiments were echoed by his mother Sukku Bai and his fourteen-year-old son Suraj. “We don’t have a toilet in our house, owing to which we have to defecate in the open on the pahari (hillock) outside the village,” Sukku Bai said.
Suraj added, “Not only we, 15-20 families from the village too, despite having applied for the same, don't have toilets. All of them are also forced to defecate in the open on the hillock.”
A Gond tribal, Uike’s family comprises his 70-year-old father Genda Lal, mother Sukku Bai, wife Kiran (35), son Suraj (14), daughter Neha (10), brother Mukesh, sister-in-law Sohani and one-year-old nephew Raghav.
Interestingly, Uike's distant cousin, who is also a councillor of Bhopal Municipal Corporation, said, "Kamalsingh Uike’s name already figures in the list of those for whom toilets have to be built in the village. But since he failed to deposit an advance of Rs 1360 the toilet couldn’t be built.”
Santosh also admitted that not every family in the village has a toilet. He, however, claimed to have no figures for the number of toilet-less families in the village.
Denying that everyone defecated in the open on the hillock, Santosh said they had been provided with portable toilets in the Suraj Nagar locality, just 500 meters away from native Sevaniya Gond village.
Interestingly, while the BJP councillor was talking to the New Indian Express, two officers of BMC arrived in the village and initiated the formalities for building a toilet for Uike’s family.
The opposition Congress’s chief spokesperson in the Madhya Pradesh, K K Mishra, alleged that this exposed the real state of Bhopal’s much-hyped ODF status. Mishra further demanded a probe to investigate alleged financial irregularities in the toilet-building project.
Earlier, on Friday, Amit Shah, while detailing figures of central funds authorised to MP government, informed that Rs 427 crore was sanctioned to the state under the Swacch Bharat program. He also informed that 143 towns, 17,616 villages and 11 districts in the state have already been declared open-defecation free (ODF).