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regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

Never seen an election candidate visit our village even for votes: Nainital residents speak out

These villages fall under the Nainital–Udhamsingh Nagar seat in Uttarakhand that went to the polls last Friday. BJP’s Ajay Bhatt, the minister of state for tourism, represented the seat in the outgoing Lok Sabha

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 22.04.24, 07:43 AM
A bird’s-eye view of Almora town

A bird’s-eye view of Almora town Sourced by The Telegraph

Cut off the mainstream, there are a few villages in Uttarakhand’s Nainital district that have never seen electoral candidates come by, for the past seven decades.

About 3-5km from motorable roads, villagers in Badaun, Loshgyani and Nekana don’t have mobile phone connections as there are no towers around them.

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“Our village is away from the road and we don’t have mobile connections here. Of about 3,200 voters in these three adjoining villages under the Ramgarh block, 1,500 live and work in Delhi, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Most of the voters who do turn up at the polling booth nearby are older people, who cannot go out of here to seek work,” said Aman Singh of Loshgyani.

Aman’s father is 60 years old, he says, and is yet to see a candidate.

These villages fall under the Nainital–Udhamsingh Nagar seat that went to the polls last Friday. BJP’s Ajay Bhatt, the minister of state for tourism, represented the seat in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

“Every time, we vote for different political parties. Every time, their followers come and promise us they have spoken to their leaders about building roads up to our villages and installing mobile phone towers. We trust them and then next time, we trust the other party…

“I have never seen an election candidate visit our village even for our votes. My father, who is 60-year-old, has also not seen any. The villagers say no candidate ever come to us, only their stooges do.”

Pan Singh Chilwal, the Badaun panchayat chief, said all they want are roads up to their villages “which can be built only by cutting the hills”. “The leaders never say ‘no’ but they don’t do anything to connect us with the mainstream,” he added.

Constituents in Almora, about 65km from Nainital, have been no better off than the remote villagers.

In the run-up to the first phase of polling, residents of 15 villages had made up their minds to boycott the elections.

The Lok Sabha seat is reserved for Scheduled Castes and comprises 14 Assembly segments, of which five are represented by the Congress and the rest by the BJP.

Devendra Negi from Kalota village under the Dwarahat segment said the politicians’ “claims of development” start with suppressing their voice.

“We hear everyday that they have developed the state. Their claim of development start with suppressing our voices when we say there is no road, no drinking water, no proper power supply, no educational facility and no health system in our areas”, Negi said. “We had informed the local administration about our plan to boycott the election but they took us lightly. They will no longer be able to take us for granted.”

Uttarakhand voted on April 19

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