Men and women wait in separate queues at an Aadarsh Madhya Vidyalaya booth in Shikaripara on Thursday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Shikaripara (Dumka), April 24: Majority of the electorate in tribal-dominated Dumka are not quite aware of the “real power” the Constitution has bestowed on them, yet they turned up in large numbers to vote on a day suspected Maoists attacked a team of polling officials at Asana in Shikaripara.
The Dumka Lok Sabha constituency witnessed brisk polling since morning, recording around 64.86 per cent voting during the day, though not many tribals expect things to change after the elections.
Tinga Tudu of Chandrapura village in Kathikund block cast his vote at a booth in Aadarsh Madhya Vidyalaya, Shivtalla, after waiting in a queue for around an hour for his turn.
“Jitney ke bad dekhne bhi nahin aata. Lekin vote nahin dete to hamko mrityu ghoshit kar deta (After the polls, no one comes here. But if I do not vote, they would declare me dead),” said Tudu, adding that if his name got deleted from the voter list, he might not get benefits of various welfare schemes.
Tudu, a farmer who grows paddy, koorthi dal, bajra, arhar dal round the year, does not have much expectation from the new MP.
In the hinterland of Dumka, most of the tribal electorate, like Tudu, vote just for the sake of it.
“Vikas to hua hai, par itna nahi jitna hona chahiye tha (Development has not been as much as was expected),” said Manoj Soren, a Santhal youth from the same village.
The second capital of Jharkhand has been connected with the country’s lifeline — the railways. Work on the much hyped and delayed Govindpur-Sahebgaj Road is on. That is all in the name of development. Other key areas, like health, education, irrigation etc, are still crying for attention.
Voting kicked off around 7am and by 8.40am, as many as 140 of the 818 voters cast their franchise at Aadarsh Madhya Vidyalaya.
Similarly, Utkramit Madhya Vidyalayam in Khairbadi (Kathikund block) recorded 402 ballots by 10.30am, against a total of 854 voters registered under the booth.
Near Kathikund police station, a Bengali gentleman, B.K. Laha, was seen enjoying his holiday that he availed to cast vote.
He works as a foreman in SP Mines area of Chitra colliery, a part of Eastern Coalfields Limited of Coal India Limited.
“I took leave to cast vote. Our forefathers came here in the beginning of the twentieth century. Though Naxalism has not been raging here, the area is deprived of most modern facilities,” he said.
Laha added that tribal people associated themselves with the bow-and-arrow symbol of the JMM, the main reason behind Shibu Soren’s victory in one after another election from Dumka.
Anil Murmu, a retired police inspector, accompanied his elder brother Joseph Murmu, the gram pradhan of Bhalpahari village, to Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya.
Coming out of the booth, Anil said there was no medical and engineering college in Dumka. His son Dinesh Murmu, a government employee now, did his engineering from a college in Bengal.
“We voted to see both (medical and engineering college) here in the next five years,” Anil said.