No ‘tribal’ status, no bridge, villagers in Odisha say no to vote!

Rayagada/Gajapati: Feeling let down over wishy-washy promises by political leaders and parties, voters in several parts of southern Odisha have upped the ante and decided to boycott the upcoming polls as many of their demands still remain non-materialised.

The Jhudia community in Kalyansinghpur of Rayagada district is apparently  disillusioned over the leaders and political parties there as their 20-year demand for ‘tribal status’ is yet to be notified. Even though the community leaders raked up the issue with several leaders, ministers and even the Prime Minister, things have not gone in their favour so far.

“Jhudia community has met all higher authorities over our demand but with no solution forthcoming , we have decided to boycott 2019 polls”, said Jhudia leader Chamia Lahara.

Raising a similar demand, the Dora, Kamar and Rana communities in Koraput district have declared to vote None of the Above (NOTA) option in the coming polls. “We have been demanding tribal status for communities of Dora, Kamar and Rana since long, but political leaders deceived us with false promises. For this, voters from the communities will vote for NOTA”, claimed Baidyanath Gamel, president, Dora community.

Voters in Gurujholli and Gardama panchayats of Mohana block in Gajapati district have also threatened to boycott the polls to press for a connecting bridge between Purnapani and Panasdiha villages. “We have approached the authorities concerned, leaders and ministers, but our demand fell on deaf ears. Disappointed, we have decided to boycott polls this year,” said Malati Pradhan, an inhabitant of Panasdiha.

The boycott of polls by thousands of people from backward communities is certainly a bad omen for democracy. Several observers believe that it may also mar chances for the contestants of various political parties.