| Chakai Chowk in Jamui. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Voters in Chakai segment of the Jamui Lok Sabha seat have found a powerful weapon with which to take on leaders who did not fulfil their promises — None-of-the-above button on the EVM.
The Election Commission is providing the None-of-the-above (Nota) option to voters during the Lok Sabha election, a first, and there seem to be many takers here.
Fed up with unfulfilled promises in the last 15 years, a consensus is building up and there is talk of the over 2.5 lakh voters here pressing on the Nota button when Chakai goes to the polls on April 10.
On top of the list of unfulfilled promises in Chakai, in one corner of Jamui, bordering Maoist-ravaged Giridih and Deoghar areas of Jharkhand, is upgrade of Chakai block into a sub-division and coming up of a railhead for better communication.
“People here have been waiting for a new sub-division along with railway facilities for over 15 years now. Every time there is an election, the leaders give us assurances but after the polls they vanish,” alleged Pradip Kumar, convener of Anumandal Banao Sangharsh Samiti.
He said people had demonstrated several times in this regard, submitting petitions after collecting mass signatures to press for their demands. “Last year, people from 23 panchayats of Chakai block unanimously resolved for creation of Madhopur, Saraun and Simultala blocks for the proposed Chakai sub-division. We sent a petition to the state government after collecting mass signatures, but nothing happened,” he said.
Echoing Kumar, local RTI activist Dharmendra Sinha said he had been persuading all political parties for several years now regarding the demand for a sub-division and better connectivity with the railhead.
Bongi panchayat, where Chakai begins, is some 110km from the Jamui district headquarters. Around 40 per cent of cases in Jamui’s courts are from Chakai. Road is the only link to Jamui and public transport scarce.
“Imagine the plight of people from this Maoist-hit backward region,” said Saligram Pandey, a resident who justified the demand for a sub-division with a railhead.
He said the late Digvijay Singh, a former Union minister of state for railways and a popular leader from the region, had two plans for the proposed new railway connectivity to Chakai — from Jasidih via Jamka or Jasidih-Jhajha via Chakai. The voters’ anger against leaders this time is palpable.
“Some 10 years ago, when Chakai was under the Banka Lok Sabha seat, we voted for Giridhari Yadav (RJD). But when he became an MP, he did nothing,” recalled Bholi Singh of Madhopur.
“Around seven years ago, Phalguni Prasad Yadav won the Chakai Assembly seat on a BJP ticket after he included their long pending demands in the poll manifesto. But he neither raised the issues on the floor of the House nor did anything about it. So, people rejected him. Voters are also annoyed with sitting JD(U) MP Bhudeo Choudhary (the JD(U) is fielding Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary this time) and sitting JMM MLA Sumit Singh for not fulfilling the demands of voters here,” said Sandeep Singh, a social worker from Simultala.
But he has not fully given up hope. He said: “We are still approaching them for inclusion of our demands in the poll manifestos. But if they fail to do so, we have decided that the Nota button on the EVM would be our last resort.”