By T S Sudhir
Babhali is now a familiar name to most in India, after Chandrababu Naidu raising the pitch on the contentious irrigation and drinking water project being constructed by Maharashtra on the Godavari river in Nanded district. But what is the mood like in Babhali village, home to some 1500 people? This is the village that lends its name to the project where a farmer cheekily told me, “it is a contractor from tumhara Andhra who built the dam”.
Despite the Nanded SP’s warning that it wouldn’t be safe to venture to Babhali without police escort, we travelled to the village and the project site, some 15 km from Dharmabad town. Things almost got ugly when at the end of the shoot, abusive Shiv Sena activists demanded to know why “we from Andhra” have stepped into Babhali.
Even in Dharmabad, the question that locals keep asking is : “Tum Andhra wale ho?” An yes means the dialogue becomes hostile, uncomfortable, unfriendly. Indeed, since Friday, when Naidu stepped into Maharashtra, you can either be an Andhra or a Maharashtra person. Indian, what’s that?
Ironical, considering Dharmabad and Basar, the nearest towns on both sides of the Andhra-Maharashtra border, are like sister towns, almost as if no border exists between the two.
Why do these politicians specialise in dividing hearts and minds along geographical lines?
(video of my story on ndtv from Ground zero at Babhali in Nanded district of Maharashtra)