Birhors return to their village in Bokaro after collecting mahua. Picture by Pankaj Singh
“Kya chunao bhaat deta hai (Does election provide rice)?” a member of Birhor tribal group from a remote village in Bokaro retorted when asked about the Lok Sabha polls.
“No food, no water, no power, so no vote,” he summed up both pathetic circumstances that they live in and their lack of faith in the system.
For, over 80 families living at Birhoretand, Khakhnda, Khakhra Basti, Tulbul, Singhbara villages in Gomia block of Bokaro, elections mean nothing. These villages — considered a hub of the primitive tribal group — fall in the Giridih parliamentary constituency that votes on Thursday, April 17.
Even 66 years after Independence, these primitive tribals do not have enough food, access to pure drinking water and livelihood sources, leave aside other amenities like power, roads and schools.
At a time when electioneering has reached fever pitch across the state, none of the candidates ventured into these remote villages — around 79km from Bokaro steel city — to avoid any difficult question that villagers might pose.
Moreover, no one from the district administration visited the villages to create awareness about their voting rights or any poll-related meeting.
“No one visits us. Only Gomia MLA Madhowlal Singh once came here to distribute blankets. The sitting BJP MP Ravindra Pandey did not come here even once in the last five years to know about our conditions,” rued Sumri Birhorin, a resident of Birhortand village.
He added that both Election Commission and district administration officials ignored them.
Another villager, Puran Birhor, said the administration did nothing for them. “Earlier, we used to get 35kg of foodgrain. Since January, that supply has stopped too,” he said.
In fact, there are some villagers who never believed their votes would change anything for better. Elders like Phulo Birhor, Jhamu Birhor, Phulmati Birhorin, Champa and Sita Birhorin have neither seen a ballot box nor an EVM for they never wished to vote in their lives.