These twin villages atop Adhaura hills of Kaimur seldom see any poll campaign. People here have been toiling hard to cut through rocks for the past five years to make a road. They find it tough to get marriage proposals in the absence of a motorable road. There are at least 100 bachelors, mostly in the age group 25 to 40, and because they cannot find a bride.
They have heard of “kamal phool wale Modiji (Narendra Modi)” being a bachelor and are resting their hopes on him to complete the road if he comes to power. They often talk in whispers about “buying” brides from Jharkhand and UP. No man has got married in Badwan for two years. The villagers’ most recent memory is of two youths marrying “brides” they claim were “bought from Jharkhand for Rs 6,000 each”.
Badwan Kalan and Badwan Khurd have a population of over 5,000, with 1,400 eligible voters. People of the villages under Chainpur assembly segment of Sasaram felt betrayed by the BSP’s Ramchandra Yadav, who won the 2005 election after assuring them he would not get married until the road is constructed. He married in 2007 and since then, the villagers have lost faith in politicians.
Talks of Modi reach them through youths who go to Bhagwanpur, 15 km away, to read newspapers. Their hopes are rekindled. They had been threatening to boycott the polls. Badwan’s booths were shifted to Binobanagar in the plains five years ago. The promise of a road that can bring a “flower-bedecked car reading a poster of shubh vivah” could be the only reason for them to vote.
The oldest bachelor of Badwan Kalan is Inder Singh, 68. Ramshankar, Ramchandra and Sarju died bachelors recently after living past 75.
Inder Singh says, “Hamar samay te nikla gael, kam se kam in log ke biyah te ho jayi (My time has gone; village youths at least need to get married).” He walks with the help of a stick.
The district headquarters of Kaimur is 32 km from the village. Villagers go to Bhagwanpur to get groceries or consult a doctor at the PHC.
Vishnu Rat Das, 39, a villager, works in a temple in Baltimore, US. He joined the villagers’ cause and is a bachelor. He divides his time between Badwan and Baltimore. Das, who has an artificial leg, is now in Badwan. He is enthusiastic about seeing four-wheelers reaching the hill road villagers have cut through in five years. Two-wheelers traversing the steep, meandering path reach midway through the hills where Badwan villagers are sweating to make the road.
Bajrang Singh Yadav, 33, a bachelor from Badwan Khurd, said they would support any politician who completes the road. “As long as there is no road, marriage proposals will not come,” said Yadav, adding there had been talk about “Modiji”. “I learnt he is a bachelor. Can he think about bachelors if he comes to power? Give us the road, we will get brides, Modiji,” said Bajrang, a farmer. He said has no candidate visited them.
Former panchayat mukhiya Ram Dayal Singh said there had been no wedding for the past two years and two youths had to pay Rs 6,000 each to get brides from Jharkhand. “We often lie that we have houses in the plains to attract marriage proposals. Ramadhin Yadav got married last year saying so. Now his wife is not willing to live with him at Badwan.”
Anil Kumar Yadav, 25, one of the few to get married, recalled how people carrying a palanquin tripped and the bride fell , suffering injuries. “I had to persuade distant relatives to seek a bride for me. My father died because he could not be taken to a hospital in time. After a search of two years, I got married. But she has been cursing me for having brought her to Badwan,” said Anil.
Lal Bahadur Singh and wife Kalauti Devi said their son Lalana Singh, 22, got married because he agreed to live at Talo village, which has roads. “My daughter is married but does not want to visit us,” said Lal Bahadur, a farmer, who said any party that gives them the road gets their vote.
Madan Kumar Yadav, a schoolteacher, shows an album of 350-odd students in school uniform, wearing ties. “We have more than 50 per cent of our girls in schools. After class VIII, there is a heavy dropout. There is no road to high schools in the plains. The government must give the villages a high school,” said Madan.
Kaimur additional SP (operations) Manoj Kumar Yadav said: “Adhaura has got a community hall under the Integrated Action Plan. The village has a genuine problem of accessibility.”