As Sunva, an OBC-dominated village on the banks of Gomti, got a new bridge linking it to villages across the river, it wasn’t Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav that the villagers were thanking the most.
The accolades belonged to his cook, Sundar Lal Maurya and his efforts to ensure that the CM also laid the foundation stone for setting up a government girls intermediate college as well as a community health centre in Maurya’s native village.
“We are proud of him because he could have easily demanded things for his family or relatives, but when we asked him to take up the development needs of our village with the Chief Minister, he agreed. The bridge will help large number of people from the adjoining villages too, who otherwise had to travel 15-km to reach Kamakhya temple or take the river route using a boat,” said Sher Bahadur Singh, Pradhan of the Sunva Village, claiming that he had first broached the matter with Maurya in 2013.
He added that they had been requesting officials and politicians for years for the health centre and the girls’ intermediate college as well. Right now the nearest girls’ school is 25-km away in Rudauli Tehsil.
Maurya (50), who now stays at the CM’s official residence along with his 20 year-old daughter and two sons (10 and 8 years old), said, “When villagers approached me, I was initially hesitant, fearing that I will get scolded. But one day, while serving food to the Chief Minister I mustered the courage to raise the issue of development in my village. The Chief Minister immediately asked his officers to conduct the survey to see if these things were really required as per rules. Officers gave positive report and all these projects were approved.”
Happy about contribution to his native place, he added: “I have been working for the family since 1996. No work is menial and it is this work, cooking, that has got my village these long-awaited infrastructure facilities. I merely acted as a medium.”
Addressing locals on the occasion, Akhilesh admitted he had asked his officers to look into the matter only after a request came from his cook. On a lighter tone, Akhilesh added that had he not agreed to the demand he would have not got good food back home.
Later, the CM also visited Maurya’s house in the village along with his wife and Kannauj MP, Dimple Yadav.
With a population of around 4000, OBC-dominated Sunva is situated in Faizabad, with Amethi on the other side of the river. The new bridge will cut down distance between the two districts from earlier 70 km to just 10 km.