Pradeep Pattanayak

The residents of Paraposhi Panchayat under Tileibani Block of Deogarh district, four Panchayats of Jujumura Block of Sambalpur district and Sanandapur village of Sahada Panchayat in Bhadrak district have taken a pledge to boycott the forthcoming Panchayat elections. 

Here is why they have resolved to abstain from participating in the democratic process: 

Just one day after filing her nomination papers for the post of Sarpanch of Paraposhi Panchayat under Tileibani block in Deogarh district, one Binita Kishan withdrew her papers on Tuesday. The bizarre incident of a Sarpanch aspirant getting herself out of the fray within 24 hours of filing nomination papers has raised many eye brows. 

Investigations revealed that the fear of being declared as an anti-Panchayat forced her to back out. The village has long been struggling with poor mobile connectivity. So far, the villagers have met many political leaders, urging them to fix the mobile network issue. However, in return, the politicians gave them what they are best known for-assurances. 
The indifference of the politicians towards their long standing demand has caused severe resentment among the villagers. And that is the reason why they have vowed boycott the Panchayat polls in order ‘to teach such politicians a lesson’. 

Moreover, they have also sent out a message across the village that they would oppose anyone who files nomination papers. 
“We have been facing mobile connectivity issues. As the leaders have failed to address our cause, we have decided to boycott the Panchayat elections and declare anyone who files nomination as ‘anti-Panchayat,” said Surendra Bhoi, a resident of Paraposhi Panchayat.

Echoing similar sentiments, Jhasketan Bhoi, a resident of the Panchayat said the villagers have decided against filing nominations and exercising their franchise. 

The pictures emerging from four Panchayats of Jujumura block in Sambalpur district are more or less similar as no one has so far turned up to file nominations. The residents of these four Panchayats have also taken a decision to not to take part in the elections. At the same time, they have warned not to throw their weight behind any candidate as well.
The reason for the political apathy stems from the fact that the villagers have not yet received any compensation for the damages suffered to their crop in 2020-2021. 
“Since we have not received any compensation for our damaged crops, we the farmers of Kayakud Panchayat have taken a decision to abstain from voting for the Panchayat elections,” said Sanjib Biswal, a young farmer from Kayakud Panchayat.  

Biswaranjan Pradhan, Election Officer at Kayakud Panchayat, confirmed it that no one has turned up to collect nomination papers. 

The residents of Sanandapur village of Sahada Panchayat in Bhadrak district have also threatened to boycott the Panchayat elections. Road connectivity has long been at the top of the villagers’ wish list. A bamboo bridge connects the village with the rest of the world. Every day, scores of villagers risk their lives by walking over the rickety bamboo bridge to go to the other side of a river. Not to mention the harrowing times they face while shifting a patient or a pregnant woman to a hospital. 

Enough, this time the villagers have decided to remain firm over their demand: ‘No Bridge No Vote.’

“We have met all- from Sarpanch to the MLA- requesting them to make us a bridge. Without a bridge, we are facing lot of problems. So we have taken a decision not to take part in the elections,” said Kuna Charan Mallik, a Sahada village resident. 

The residents of Paraposhi and Kayakud Panchayats and Sanandapur village have sent out a clear message that they are no longer to be fooled by any ‘smart politician’.