Friday, June 24, 2016

`Incorruptible' Ex-MLA Now Lives On Streets


Two time MLA from Punjab now living on street with family. Ex-MLA claims never saved enough to build house. Says he quit his party BSP and politics as he could not compromise with corruption.

As pre-monsoon showers hit Garhshankar town in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district, Shingara Ram Shahunggra and his family started looking for tarpaulin sheets to cover their belongings lying by the side of the road.
As the family settled down under the sheets on iron cots placed on the wet earth, it was difficult to imagine that Shahunggra had been a BSP MLA from Punjab, not once but twice!

The family had been living illegally in an irrigation department house for the past few years. The government finally decided to evict them on Sunday, making Shahunggra perhaps the only ex-MLA in a rich state like Punjab who never built a fancy house for himself in all these years. "I am looking for a place to rent with my meagre MLA pension of Rs 20,000 a month, but till then I will be living under the skies," he says even as his wife starts making chapattis on the footpath, her kitchen for the time being. Their two sons help out with the cooking and the family uses the washrooms of one of their neighbours.

Interestingly, Shahunggra was MLA in 1992 and 1997 from the Garhshankar general category seat although he is Scheduled Caste. "I was thrown out of BSP after I sided with Kanshi Ram's family when they were trying to reach him in his last days," Shahunggra says.

"I entered politics to participate in Kanshi Ram's mission to empower the lower castes and I never tried to make money during my two stints," he insists.
"If I am having to see such days it is because of my refusal to engage in corruption. When I was MLA, the salary was not enough to build a house and now I survive on my pension. I never thought of starting a business," he added.
His wife Suman Kumari says, "When I got married in 1992, people envied my position as an MLA's wife but now this is where we stand. I don't mind missing a meal but to live on the road is painful.

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