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Rae Bareli as a political constituency is world-famous. The ground realities remain no different than any other three-tier city in India. Political promises of UPA and NDA both have failed the citizens of Rae Bareli. The city still stands poorly in providing basic amenities to its citizens. During the time of elections, the usual question one asks is whether the voters will vote. When it comes about India other the services, promises and actual delivery; caste-class and religion also play an important role. This article presents three cases from Rae Bareli and leaves on the reader s to decide on the political choices  people mentioned in these cases would make while casting their votes. It is a known fact that INC has so far won all parliamentary elections, except two in Rae Bareli.

Story 1-

Ramnaresh Singh, resident of Satyanagar, Rae Bareli was stunned to receive an electricity bill of Rs. 30,000/-. Just a year and a half ago, he faced a similar issue in which, he received a huge bill and for which he had to meet officials and got some relief but this time when he approached for corrections, the department remained silent for months and when they responded , they placed a check meter in place of the earlier.

When no one was coming to remove the check meter, then help of the public hearing portal was taken. When the matter reached the public hearing portal, roads were closed for taking bribe and SDO  wrongly reported that the consumer is not letting them take away the check meter. When another complaint was made against the above action, then Ramnaresh Singh started receiving phone calls threatening him  with serious consequences. The matter of fact is that the electricity department in Rae Bareli believes in settling such type of cases through the most common way, and when the possibility of getting anything like this was not there, then the SDO’s temper and frustration seem to be natural. Written appeal was also made to the District Magistrate on behalf of the consumer. The immediate thing that happened  was that, the check meter was taken off, but the bill amount was not corrected. Despite continuously writing and follow-up the bill continued to grow. Meanwhile, the respected SDO Sahib reported that the consumer has tampered with the meter so an additional fine of Rs. 2,55,000/- was charged.

The house in which there are three rooms, and the consumption of low consumption equipment, and the old bills have come from 80 -90 rupees to 300 rupees and also paid without any problem, then how will the consumer benefit by tempering with the meter?

However, on 9th April,  an official went to check the meter (under effect of a tweet to the energy minister in this matter), but still he is singing the same song of why the complaint was made on the public hearing portal. Had the bill got corrected in the first instance, then things shouldn’t have been like it is now.

The case is still pending and the Bill amount rose to 97,000/-. The only difference in this case is that here no one has stolen anything and so no question of giving bribe.

Story Two:

It’s two years ago one person known to me in Rae Bareli suddenly received an Electricity bill amounting to Rs 36000/-.He has a one room house and three living creatures. He was very upset, he did not earn much. He tried his best to approach different offices but in vein and lost few months. The bill in the meantime reached between Rs. 70-80,000/-. One day he expressed in his office that he don’t even earn so much to pay a huge bill. Hearing this somebody advised him to pay the amount which will automatically get adjusted in future. I don’t understand how come the provision of paying bill in future?I do not know exactly what is the condition of him and his bills today, but when I met him, the face of the Uttar Pradesh government’s department became clear to me.

Story Three:

I know one person hailing from Rae Bareli who belong to a middle class family and run a small business of him to earn a living. Recently he completed building a house of his own but all of a sudden he received an inflated bill. He ran from pillar to post to sort out the issue with concerned department and every possible person he knew. Somebody suggested to fix an equipment so the bill will never increase. One day, suddenly some people from the electricity department came and threatened with huge penalty and disconnection. So in order that things don’t turn out of control, he paid an amount of Rs.  25-30000/- and somehow managed the situation.

Last time, when I went to correct the electricity bill of my house, an employee from the department  said that as the scales of the vegetable vendor sometimes malfunctions, so is the same case with the electricity department and my application was refused. When the next time I went with an acquaintance, the employee (Babu Santosh Tripathi) from the electricity department at Madhuban Market in Rae Bareli refused to believe that I met him before and when I reminded him where he used to sit, he started hiding his eyes. At that time too, a false negative report was published on the public hearing portal.

Ashish Singh is currently pursuing PhD in Political Science at the National Research University-Higher School of Economics, Moscow


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