Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014

The big picture: Raje on Wheels

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's motorcade zoomed into Mughalpura. (Photographs: Ravi Kanojia) Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's motorcade zoomed into Mughalpura. (Photographs: Ravi Kanojia)
Written by Sweta Dutta | Posted: February 16, 2014 12:15 am | Updated: February 16, 2014 3:44 pm

A CM, her 11 ministers, their 19 secretaries, on the move for 11 days, through one of the state’s most backward districts, ahead of Lok Sabha elections. SWETA DUTTA tracks as Rajasthan gets a glimpse of Vasundhara Raje’s instant governance.

Dhori Singh, 80, has never seen such hustle-bustle in her nondescript, neglected village Mughalpura lost in the infamy of the Chambal ravines. Just like the mobile phone network that is undecided over whether this village is a part of Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh and almost always puts the residents on roaming even in their own homes, the state government too is accused of relegating the village to obscurity. Dhori has long been certain that no official or minister would ever visit them. On the morning of February 14 though, a motorcade zoomed into Mughalpura. It bore the “Maharani”, the one who moved into the Dholpur Palace located just 30 km away four decades back. Dhori had heard about her, but never seen her. Newly returned as Rajasthan Chief Minister though, Vasundhara Raje is out to change that.

As car loads of bureaucrats and uniformed policemen alight ahead of her, Raje becomes the first ever minister to have visited Mughalpura, talking to locals and asking about their problems. This is one of her stops in an 11-day tour of Bharatpur division. In a move being dubbed an attempt to reach out to the masses and dispense immediate relief through jan sunwais (public hearings), her entire government machinery, including her team of 11 ministers with 19 secretaries (this includes the chief secretary, additional chief secretary rank officials, principal secretary and secretary to the CM), as well as district and local officials, is touring the division extensively from February 9 to 19.

Out of the total 944 gram panchayats under the division, till late February 14 evening, 343 had been covered by the 11 ministers, with each of them hearing approximately 2,000 cases at the public hearings. Hard-pressed for time, the ministers have been swerving in and out of hearings, tending to the first few cases with diligence and walking out on the others, promising that their applications too will be processed, leaving behind a trail of despair. The Opposition has been crying foul too, at being left out of the exercise.

However, the message isn’t lost in Bharatpur, one of the most backward divisions of Rajasthan and among the few that didn’t vote overwhelmingly for the BJP. A CM accused of haughty ways in her first term, a former royal believed to bear the vestiges of that dynastic past, is taking her government to the people in an aam aadmi touch redolent of not-too-distant Delhi. The people are pleasantly surprised, and Raje claims she is too, at what she has inherited from her predecessor.

Villages like Mughalpura dotting the dacoit-infested ravines of Chambal continued…

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