India villagers to 'boycott' polls

About 6,000 people in northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand decide to boycott polls citing lack of development.

    India villagers to 'boycott' polls
    Portions of Uttarakhand were devastated in last year's flash floods that claimed nearly 5,700 lives [EPA]

    About 6,000 villagers of Udham Singh Nagar district in India's northern Uttarakhand state have decided to boycott polls, citing the state government's failure in bringing development in the mountainous region.

    "Our decision is that if nobody needs us, why we will cast our votes? We are counted as insects. If there is power in our counting, then the government must definitely think about us," a villager Girdhar told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

    The country is now over halfway through its nine days of voting for parliament in the world's biggest ever election, with the ruling Congress party struggling to hold ground against Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    Villagers in Udham Singh Nagar, which has seven administrative blocks - Bajpur, Gadarpur, Jaspur, Kashipur, Kichha, Khatima and Sitarganj - are disappointed and angry with government's failure to even provide basic infrastructure like roads.

    They also complained of receiving unjust treatment and blamed the provincial government in the Himalayan state of not working for their welfare.

    No roads

    "It is because of the votes itself. Neither we have roads nor bridges. I am 45-years-old and I have seen road only once. And this time we would not cast our votes. Neither my family nor the people in our village will cast votes," said another villager, Harminder.

    "There are five-ten villages over here, we all have discussed that we won't cast our votes. We will boycott polls and make others boycott them too," he added.

    Uttarakhand is the mountainous Indian state with several thousand villages still lacking connectivity with the main roads. The state will go to polls in the eight phase of polling on May 7 for five constituencies.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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