Sonia Lights Up Wherever She Turns Up

June 24, 2006
Shantanu Dutta

A couple of days ago, my newspaper carried a headline saying "Rae Bareli getting 24 hours electricity". On browsing through, I discovered that Rae Bareli was truly blessed. On the occasion of Sonia Gandhi's first visit to her constituency after her recent victory, the U.P government, to avoid any additional headaches had cleared the supply of 24 hour electricity at least during the visit. However, it seems the orders got mangled or some thing and it ended up such that Rae Bareli town got 16 hours of electricity and the rural part of the district got 11 hours. That itself became a point of acrimony because there was a point of time when the relations between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party were cordial and the people of Rae Bareli actually got electricity 24 hours a day.

Now considering that electricity generation in U.P hasn't increased in decades (hence the urgency and the importance of Anil Ambani and Reliance Energy's investments!), the whole electrification story in Uttar Pradesh is a farce. When major towns get no more than 6-8 hours of electricity on a good day, the vast mass of Uttar Pradesh has its own night life - powered through noisy, polluting, diesel crunching, smoke belching generators which come to life at the stroke of sunset and groan away till late into the night simulating a semblance of a sound and light show.

Every year the power ministry of Uttar Pradesh releases figures on the number of new villages electrified. That must actually mean the number of villages which have got poles and transformers and whom the electricity distribution companies can now milk under the pretext that they now have connections.

In a state where newspapers report the days when a town gets its electricity for a full 24 hours, talking of rural electrification without talking of increasing generating capacity is to play out the theatre of the absurd.

Meanwhile, the papers report that there is at least one other city in U.P that has 24 electricity and another some what closer. The lucky city that is receiving 24 hour electricity is Mulayam's assembly constituency and the other one is the place in Uttar Pradesh where Mulayam Singh pitches his caravan in the night as he tours the state. Meanwhile, till Anil Ambani starts generating his electricity, we can learn to pitch our tents where Mulayam or Sonia's benign presence is and be assured of a sound sleep at night!

Shantanu Dutta is a medical doctor by training and a development professional by vocation. His writings mostly deal with change, complexity and conversion and tries to look at a changing world through heaven's eyes.
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Sonia Lights Up Wherever She Turns Up


Author: Shantanu Dutta


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